Rivals in the American Big Tech industry of TikTok are all too familiar with this dance.

Rivals in the American Big Tech industry of TikTok are all too familiar with this dance.

On March 23, TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee to provide his first public and direct response to inquiries from US lawmakers. TikTok is owned by the Chinese corporation ByteDance.

Trade Wounds of War

If you think back to 2020, you’ll recall that previous President Trump was engaged in a rather acrimonious trade conflict with China. Trump specifically criticized Huawei and TikTok, two significant Chinese corporations. Despite TikTok’s assurances that its servers are not located in China, valid concerns about the app’s data security were overshadowed by the geopolitical theatre of Trump and Xi Jinping sparring, which resulted in an ultimately unenforceable ban.

After the 2020 presidential election, TikTok experienced a temporary respite, but concerns about its security have since returned, particularly after BuzzFeed revealed in June 2017 that US user data was accessed from China:

According to a statement from the committee, Chew will be questioned about TikTok’s “consumer privacy and data security standards, the platforms’ influence on children, and their relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.”

Section 230, a law that exempts platforms from paying for illegal content provided by users, will be debated by lawmakers. The Berman Amendments, a pair of obscure statutes from the Cold War era that prohibits the president from obstructing “informational materials” from adversarial countries, may be TikTok’s saviour.

Honor Unbound: In comparison to Huawei, TikTok may have survived the Trump administration untouched because none of its executives were placed under house arrest for three years. But at least one Huawei subsidiary had a successful year. In November 2020, Huawei’s Honor smartphone brand will be spun off. Last year, Honor’s China shipments increased by 34% while rival brands’ sales declined. We apologize to Huawei; losing a breakup is never enjoyable.

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