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TikTok faces intense scrutiny from US Congress

TikTok faces intense scrutiny from US Congress

US Congress grilled TikTok CEO, Shou Zi Chew, when he appeared before Congress yesterday, as the company faces increasing calls for a US ban.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee saw both Republican and Democrat representatives spend four hours questioning Chew about Congress’ longstanding concerns that TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, would be forced to turn over the vast amounts of personal data that TikTok collects to the Chinese Government.

During the hearing , Chew stated: “Our approach has never been to dismiss or trivialise any of these concerns. We have addressed them with real action, building what amounts to a firewall.”

Chew was referring to TikTok’s investment in ‘Project Texas,’ a partnership with Oracle to keep American user data stored and secure in the US, ie: away from Chinese control or interference. During the hearing, Chew acknowledged that ‘Project Texas’ was not fully operational, and that Chinese engineers currently have access to US data.

In January this year, Forbes reported that JP Morgan is working with ByteDance on payments technology to help the social media platform expand into new markets and crack into the fintech space. The Chinese company is not only a social platform for sharing user videos, but a vast marketplace with billions of dollars moving across the platform each year.

JP Morgan was brought in to help streamline these payments for over a dozen of its products.

The Forbes article refers to a JP Morgan case study (which no longer appears to be available on the bank’s site) that described a real-time payments infrastructure for ByteDance, that would allow users to be paid directly and instantly into their bank accounts. The payments technology which in January was reportedly enabled in the US and Europe, covered approximately one-fifth of Tiktok’s one billion active users worldwide.

Notably, the case study reportedly stated that the system allowed “real-time exchange of data between ByteDance and JP Morgan” so that ByteDance could “see and monitor payments.”
It remains to be seen whether the bank’s involvement and visibility of US-based user transactions will impact the partnership.

Finextra has reached out to JP Morgan for comment.

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