A TikTok executive on Tuesday refused to tell Congress whether the Chinese government could access American users’ data.
Although TikTok denies it is controlled by Chinese entities, it has heavily censored content critical of the Chinese Communist Party, including videos that highlighted Hong Kong pro-democracy protests or mentioned the Tiananmen Square massacre. After those censorship standards were published in 2019 by The Guardian, TikTok announced it was changing its policies to allow more free expression. TikTok parent company ByteDance is based in China, which requires companies to hand over any data the government demands for national security reasons.
Beckerman also denied that TikTok had censored content critical of the Chinese government’s mass imprisonment of Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in China’s Xinjiang province. Beckerman’s British counterpart admitted last year, however, that “there were some incidents where content was not allowed on the platform, specifically with regard to the Uighur situation.” That executive later recanted.
Cruz said that Beckerman “dodged the questions more than any witness I have seen.” Beckerman said the senator was peppering him with “gotcha questions.”
Tuesday’s hearing was the first time a TikTok executive testified before Congress.