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Shou Zi Chew Questioned About TikTok's Ties To Chinese Government; Bipartisan Committee Looking Into Allegations Of Possible Spying Via The Platform; Fallout After Smotrich Says There's No Palestinian People; Official: "Deliberate" Strike On Civilians In Zaporizhzhia; Congress Members Concerned About Platform's Relationship With China's Communist Party; U.S. Lawmakers Grill TikTok CEO On Capitol Hill. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired March 23, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN HOST: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. And we begin this hour with TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to be in growth right now on Capitol
Hill. He's testifying before lawmakers who are increasingly skeptical of the platform's security practices, and its relationship with China's
Communist Party. Here's some of what he's been telling the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, I want you to take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHOU ZI CHEW, CEO TIKTOK: Now, that's what we've been doing for the last two years, building what amounts to a firewall, the CEOs have protected
U.S. user data from unauthorized foreign access.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: All right, James Lewis is the Senior Vice President at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank in Washington,
D.C., and he supports banning TikTok joining us now live. Sir, great to have you on! Do you believe that there are extra firewalls in place to
protect U.S. user data?
JAMES A. LEWIS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: TikTok has done as much as it can to keep control of
the data and yet say that it's protected. But the problem for the CEO is, it's not TikTok, that's the target of mistrust it's China. Nobody trusts
China and nothing he can say will change that.
GIOKOS: You've been listening in, I'm sure to the testimony, the questions really insightful into what U.S. lawmakers are thinking and feeling the
anxiety around what is happening with U.S. data. Whether it's protected whether the Chinese government ultimately does have access to it?
And one interesting element of this is Project Texas, which seems to be one of the sorts of fight bags from the CEO saying this is what we have in
place. And that is why you should trust us?
LEWIS: And so Project Texas, which is a technical solution that involves monitoring the algorithm, monitoring traffic flows. Project Texas could
work the difficulty it has is TikTok itself is in Project Texas. I mean, that's like self-policing.
And I think the members are having trouble saying, you know, we don't trust you. So why would we trust your monitoring system? Project Texas could
work, but it will have to be removed from TikTok's control. And the company might not be willing to do that.
GIOKOS: Yes. Look, I want to talk about whether we're a see a cell or a ban. And you know, one of the things that have come up is the fact that
they would still have to get permission from the Chinese government because there's an export ban on specific patents, which again, govern what
ByteDance and TikTok are doing. How do you see this playing out based on what you've heard happening on Capitol Hill right now?
LEWIS: The Chinese government loves TikTok. It's their only globally successful app. It's like think number six in the world. The first four are
American. They're not going to give it up easily, right? But their solutions that have been put forward by TikTok aren't going to come in
Washington. So you've got a couple of choices.
The U.S. has the authority to force divestiture right under the servitor's rules. So they could tell that they could tell ByteDance, the owner, you
know, a few years ago, we said this, it was OK for you to acquire TikTok.
And we've changed our mind sell it. They could do that. It'd be hard because it's such a big company and so expensive. The other thing they
could do is you can't ban speech. So TikTok will continue to be accessible. But you can ban financial transaction.
So that means no ad revenue, no sales on App Stores, no nothing. And that would really hurt the company. Those are the avenues that the
administration has been exploring. They've been very thoughtful in constructing this. So it will withstand challenge in court. TikTok said,
look, we're going to take you to court no matter why you do.
The administration feels that the package it's putting together especially with such strong congressional support will be enough to overcome any
resistance and enough to force ByteDance to ultimately either sell or agree to some external oversight.
GIOKOS: Some of the questions that we've heard from lawmakers, there are parallels in terms of what domestic social media companies have had to
answer. And again, you know, you don't get a full picture on transparency in terms of who has access to the data? How it's sold?
What about, you know protection on children? There are so many questions here. I'm so sorry. We are going to have to stop this interview for now. We
will come back to you thank you for your insight. I just want to go back to Capitol Hill and listen again on the testimony.
REP. KAT CAMMACK (R-FL): Who is Mr. Shou Zi Chew is the Editor-in-Chief. My colleague Representative Burgess a few minutes ago, expose that TikTok and
ByteDance share legal teams, you confirmed this correct?
CHEW: Our, General Counsel is an American lawyer that have been of Microsoft.
CAMMACK: Also my colleague Representative Latta confirmed that your parent company ByteDance currently can access user data. Yes?
CHEW: Let's we have to be more specific.
CHEW: After Project Texas, no.
CAMMACK: I'm not asking after Project Texas I'm asking now. Yes.
CHEW: Some user data is public data Congresswoman, which means everybody, can--?
CAMMACK: What's interesting to me is that you've used the word transparency over a half a dozen times in your opening testimony and subsequently again
in your answers to my colleagues. Yet the interesting thing to me is that ByteDance your parent company has gone out of their way to hide an airbrush
corporate structure ties to the CCP.
The company's founder and their activities, you can look no further than the fact that ByteDance website has been scrubbed. In fact, we found web
pages from the Beijing Internet Association the Industry Association charged with Communist Party building work of internet companies in
They have been archived but since deleted, make you kind of wonder why? Yes or no ByteDance is required to have a member of the Chinese government on
its board with veto power. Is that correct?
CHEW: No, that is no correct. The ByteDance own some Chinese businesses and you're talking about this very special subsidiary that is for Chinese
CAMMACK: Mr. Chew I'm going to have to move on. You've said repeatedly that there is no threat that this is an inner a platform for entertainment and
for fun. I have to ask you, then, if there is no threat to Americans, if there is no threat to our data, privacy security.
Why did an internal memo from TikTok Corporate Headquarters explicitly Coach Senior Management to "Downplay the parent company ByteDance"? Why
would they say downplay the China Association and downplay AI? This is from an internal memo from your company. Why if you had nothing to hide, would
you need to downplay the association with ByteDance in China?
CHEW: Congresswoman, I have not seen this level.
CAMMACK: You can answer the question. Mr. Chew, I'd like to direct your attention to the screen for short video if you don't mind. Mr. Chew, that
video was posted 41 days ago. As you can see, it is captioned me as F at the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23 of this year, this
video was posted before this hearing was publicly noticed.
I think that's a very interesting point to rise. But more concerning is the fact that it names this Chairwoman by name. Your own community guidelines
state that you have a firm stance against enabling violence on or off TikTok.
We do not allow people to use our platform to threaten or incite violence, or to promote violent extremist organizations, individuals or acts. When
there is a threat to public safety or an account is used to promote or glorify off platform violence. We ban the account.
This video has been up for 41 days, it is a direct threat to the Chairwoman of this Committee, the people in this room, and yet it still remains on the
platform. And you expect us to believe that you are capable of maintaining the data security, privacy and security of 150 million Americans where you
can't even protect the people in this room?
I think that is a blatant display of how vulnerable people who use TikTok are? You couldn't take action after 41 days, when a clear threat, a very
violent threat to the Chairwoman of this Committee and the members of this committee was posted on your platform. You damn well know that you cannot
protect the data and security of this committee or the 150 million users of your app, because it is an extension of the CCP. And with that I yield
CHEW: Can I respond Chair?
REP. CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS (R-WA): We're going to move on. Gentle lady yields back. Chairman recognizes the lady from California Ms. Matsui for
REP. DORIS MATSUI (D-CA): Thank you for Madam Chair, and I'm really glad that we're having this very important hearing here today. And let me just
say make no mistake, the Chinese government represents a real and immediate threat, look no further than even the vulnerable gear still in our telecom
networks that needs to be ripped and replaced.
But we can't lose sight of the important Internet governance issues TikTok, and other social media companies represent. I'm especially committed to
demanding transparency from large platforms, about the algorithms that shape our online interactions, especially for teenagers and young users.
And that's why I introduce the Algorithmic Justice and Online platform Transparency Act to bring greater visibility into this ecosystem. My bill
would require would prohibit algorithms that discriminate on the basis of race, age, gender ability and other protected characteristics.
It also would establish a safety and effectiveness standard for algorithms why are we new forms of interstice oversight? Now, this bill would require
online platforms to publish annual public reports detailing their content moderation practices.
Which I believe should be a baseline requirement to enable meaningful oversight and consumer choice. Mr. Chew, just yes or no, do you believe a
requirement for annual content moderation practices, where social media platforms would be beneficial? Yes or no?
MATSUI: This transparency bill would also require online platforms to maintain detailed records describing their algorithmic process for review
by the Federal Trade Commission in compliance with key privacy and data identification standards. Mr. Chew, does TikTok currently maintains records
describing their algorithmic processes, yes or no?
CHEW: Congresswoman, I will need to check and get back to you on what kind of specific records you are talking about.
MATSUI: I wait for that. Over the past few years, alarming information brought to light by whistleblowers have shown that social media companies
are intimately aware of the effect their products have on young women, political extremism, and more. Despite this, they withheld those studies,
or declined to investigate further.
In either case, it shows a pattern, evasive or negligent behavior that I find concerning and extreme. Mr. Chew does TikTok conduct its own studies
on the effect of his algorithms and content distribution models on mental health or safety? And if so, how, and when are those findings made public?
And if not, do you believe they're unnecessary?
CHEW: Congresswoman, we rely on external third parties and fund their research to help us understand some of these issues. For example, we worked
with the digital wellness lab at the Boston Children's Hospital to understand the 60 minute time limit that we put for all our under 18 users.
And we are supportive of legislation that provides more funding for research like for example for the NIH.
MATSUI: OK. TikTok tailors are recommended content based on user activity to encourage people to spend more time on the app. While this practice is
by no means unique to TikTok given the prevalence of young users, and the digestible nature of short form video, I'm concerned about the app's
tendency to exacerbate existing mental health challenges.
Mr. Chew does TikTok have different policies for amplifying content that would be related to depression or dieting versus content, like gardening
and sports? If yes, describe these policy differences if no, why not?
CHEW: Congresswoman. Thank you for that. This is a great question. The answer is yes, we are trying out some policies together with experts to
understand certain contents that are not inherently harmful, like extreme fitness, for example, but shouldn't be seen too much.
And this is - these are models that we're building. And we are trying to understand, you know, together with experts, how to best implement them
across our platform, particularly for younger users.
MATSUI: OK. So in cases where users have been engaging with potentially harmful content I believe it's imperative that the app take steps to
moderate that behavior, rather than continuing to promote it. I mean, in a sense--
CHEW: I apologize. I wasn't clear. First, anything that is violated and harmful we remove. What I meant to say were things content that is not
inherently harmful, like some of the extreme fitness videos about people running hundred miles.
Is not inherently harmful, but if we show them too much, the experts are telling us that we should disperse them more and make sure that they're not
seen too regularly, especially by younger users.
MATSUI: So you - intentional about that, then it's something that you--
CHEW: We are working on it.
MATSUI: You're working on it.
MATSUI: OK. I yield back.
RODGERS: Gentle lady yields back. Chair recognizes Gentleman from Florida, Mr. Bilirakis for five minutes.
REP. GUS BILIRAKIS (R-FL): Thank you, Madam Chair. Appreciate very much. Thanks for holding this hearing. Mr. Chew, your algorithms have prioritized
providing harmful content directly to children like self-harm challenges, and even suicide.
Just three days ago. Italy open investigation into the TikTok over user safety concerns after the so called French scar challenge went viral on
your platform. I know you know about the blackout challenge, which others may know as the choking challenge that encourages children to bring them to
the point of unconsciousness, or in some cases tragically, death.
If that is not enough, I wanted to share the story of Chase Nasca (ph) a 16-year-old boy from New York who tragically ended his life a year ago by
stepping in front of a train. I want to thank his parents. Again, they are here. I want to thank his parents for being here today and allowing us to
Mr. Chew, your company destroyed their lives. Your company destroyed their lives. I admire their courage to be here, and share Chases' story in the
hopes that it will prevent this from happening to other families.
The content in Chases' for you page was not a window to discovery, as you boldly claimed, in your testimony. It wasn't content from a creator, which
you invited to roam the hill today, or Stem education content that children and China see.
Instead, his for you page was sadly a window to discover suicide. It is unacceptable, sir, that even after knowing all these dangers, you still
claim TikTok is something grand to behold. I want you to see what Chase would see.
And I think if you want again, would you share this content with your children with your two children? Would you want them to see this? And
again, I want to warn everyone watching that you may find this content disturbing but we need to watch this please.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
Mr. Chew please, your technology is literally leading to death. Mr. Chew yes or no? Do you have full responsibility for your algorithms used by
TikTok to prioritize content to its users? Yes or no? Please?
CHEW: Congressman, I'll just like to respectfully if you don't mind, I would just like to start by saying it's devastating to hear about the news
of I thought to myself
BILIRAKIS: Sir yes or no. I'll repeat the question. Do you have full responsibility over the algorithms used by TikTok to prioritize content to
its users? Yes or no? Please.
CHEW: Congressman, we do take these issues very seriously.
BILIRAKIS: Yes or no?
CHEW: And we do provide resources for anyone who types in anything that--
BILIRAKIS: Sir, yes or no? I see you're not willing to answer the question or take any responsibility for your parents, companies, the technology and
the harms that creates. It's just very, very sad. Very sad--
CHEW: It's very sad.
BILIRAKIS: This is why Congress needs to enact a comprehensive privacy and data security law to give Americans more control over their information and
to protect our children. We must save our children from Big Tech companies like yours, who continue to abuse and manipulate them for your own gain.
And I'll yield back, Madam Chair.
RODGERS: Gentleman yields back. Chair recognizes the Gentle lady from Florida, Ms. Castor for five minutes.
GIOKOS: All right, a live testimony coming through on Capitol Hill for Shou Zi Chew he's a CEO of TikTok a heated conversation that is occurring as
we've seen in the past hour and big questions around harmful content that has been disseminated.
What happens to algorithms, the challenges that are also going viral that target children in specific. And what TikTok is doing to protect its users,
still so many questions coming through on data protection, what that means and of course, the vulnerabilities that exist.
In fact, one video we've shown that was on its site for 41 days that was allegedly targeting the chairwoman of this committee, inciting violence,
that question also posed to the CEO. Alright, we'll be monitoring this as it goes on. But for now, we're going to go to a very short break. We'll be
back right after this stay with CNN.
GIOKOS: Welcome back. The Israeli parliament has just passed a controversial law limiting the ways a sitting prime Minister can be
declared unfit for office. All of this amid a corruption scandal Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing and ongoing protests over his planned
judicial changes. So tonight, we ask can Mr. Netanyahu survive.
And you'll remember also a few days ago Israel's finance minister came under criticism again for denying the existence of a Palestinian people.
The U.S. European Union and some Arab countries denouncing his comments a U.N. spokesperson called the remarks completely unhelpful stressing that
the Palestinian people obviously exist.
Right that U.N. spokesman is Farhan Haq. He joins me now. So, thank you so much for coming on the program. You're saying that it is unhelpful. But
many people have said this as incendiary. This is a lot more than that. Is the UN condemning these comments?
FARHAN HAQ, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Well, certainly we believe that the comments by Minister Smotrich are unacceptable. And
coming from a senior government official, it's also a completely responsible. So, we have taken our position on that. Obviously, the
Palestinians exist, obviously they have rights that are defended by the United Nations.
And, of course, these sorts of comments are unhelpful towards our goal, which is towards a two-state solution in which two states, Israel and
Palestine, live side by side, in peace and security with each other.
GIOKOS: The finance minister's comments also coming just a few weeks after he called for an entire Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank to be
raised. These are strong words. When you hear that about an entire group of people, how is the U.N. defining that messaging from a sitting minister?
HAQ: Well, again, we believe that this is unhelpful. We want to avoid anyone having any rhetoric that can inflame the situation. As you know, the
situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians is tense enough as it is, and we don't need any provocative words, adding more fuel to the fire.
And so we're doing what we can to make sure that everyone calms things down and avoids that kind of rhetoric. We are always against any language that
denies the existence of groups of people. It's, it's a dangerous road to travel on.
GIOKOS: It is a dangerous road. It as you say it is unhelpful, but it is also very dangerous. How concerned are you right now that this rhetoric
could prompt more violence could inflame the situation on the ground?
HAQ: Well, we are doing all that we can, including through our senior officials on the ground toward Venice land, to talk to the parties to make
sure that all sides observe maximum calm and maximum restraint. Obviously, this sort of rhetoric doesn't help the situation.
But as long as other leaders are willing to show a greater sense of responsibility, and are aware of the need to co-operate with each other and
to work with each other to lower tensions, we can avert the worst situation.
GIOKOS: I also don't want to just look at these comments in isolation because I want to look at what's happening on the policy front the
government's attempt to judicial overhaul repealing of West Bank settlement legislation and just today Israeli's parliament, Israel's parliament
passing a new law, limiting the ability to declare Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unfit for party leader.
I want you to take a listen to this comment, because it basically shows how perhaps the two are not mutually exclusive. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MERAV MICHAELI, ISRAELI LABOR PARTY LEADER: One of the drivers for this judicial coup that they're trying to pass now is the settlers that have
wanted to bring down the Supreme Court of Israel for many, many years, because they want to be able to do in the West Bank, whatever they want to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: This is from the Israeli Labour Party leader. What is your sense right now, in terms of what's happening on policy front versus some of the
rhetoric from the finance minister?
HAQ: Well, I wouldn't get into the domestic legislation, which is outside of the purview of the United Nations. But regarding the question of
settlements, we've always been clear, the settlements are illegal under international law, and that they pose a substantial obstacle to the two
state solutions that I was mentioning and is substantial obstacle to peace.
And so we want to make sure, as we call on the parties to refrain from any steps that can inflame the situation on the ground, that that includes any
expansion of settlements or outposts.
GIOKOS: Farhan Haq, thank you so much for your time. Great to have you on the show, and hearing your insights! All right, so just a note. We have
invited members of Israel's government on to the show, CONNECT THE WORLD and have yet to hear back, the invitation is still open. Alright, we're
going to a very short break, stay with CNN.
GIOKOS: Welcome back to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Eleni Giokos; I'm in for Becky Anderson. Your headlines this hour; U.S. lawmakers grilling the boss
of TikTok right now, he's been questioned about the popular apps connections to China and its privacy protections. The Biden Administration
has threatened TikTok with a nationwide ban, unless its Chinese owners salvage stakes in the company.
France is in the grips of a nationwide strike after that controversial plan to rise the retirement age, which pushed through parliament without a vote
last week. These are live pictures that we're seeing coming through from Paris. Earlier angry protesters blocked an airport terminal and train
tracks in Paris. Thousands of police officers have been mobilized across the country.
Now for the second time in as many days, Ukraine's president visited an area along the front lines. Today Volodymyr Zelenskyy went to the Kherson
region. He toured an energy facility and talk to locals about their current needs. Meantime, a top Ukrainian commander says Ukrainian troops could soon
go on the offensive in Bakhmut.
He says Russia is losing a significant number of forces in what has become a prolonged struggle to take the city. President Zelenskyy called the
attack on a residential complex in Zaporizhzhia bestial savagery. This is the moment of impact when a missile hit a building in that city in what
Ukraine calls a deliberate Russian strike on civilians. CNN's Ivan Watson talks to residents of that building who say they have no plans to leave.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The clean-up work is now underway. A day after Ukrainian authorities say Russian missiles
slammed into the side of these nine storey apartment buildings in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia. At least one person was killed in the
attack and some 34 people wounded.
I met some of the families who live here who survived the explosion and insisted on staying here again last night boarding up their shattered
windows with wood and staying here, despite the fact that there is no electricity, nor any heat right now. I'd like to point out right here we've
got a children's playground right in front of these buildings.
This is the kind of community that was targeted by these deadly strikes. Now the Ukrainian authorities are offering assistance they've offered
temporary accommodation to residents. There is a distribution going on here for people in the neighborhood. This isn't the first time that an apartment
building has been pounded by deadly rockets and missiles here.
Just in Zaporizhzhia alone, the city is about a half hour's drive from active front lines. These buildings face to the south west, and that is in
the direction of Russian occupied territory. So you can logically conclude that the deadly long range projectiles were fired from there and then
slammed into here.
Just last week, I was in another Ukrainian town Kramatorsk seeing a similar scene in a lower kind of three storey building, suggesting there is a
deliberate military strategy. We're certainly a pattern where Russia fires these types of deadly weapons at residential buildings. Ivan Watson CNN,
GIOKOS: A define safe from residence wanting to stay in Zaporizhzhia. We have David McKenzie who's with us right now from Odessa in southern
Ukraine. President Zelenskyy visiting areas along the front lines could you give us more about what we're learning about this visit and importantly,
where we are right now on what's happening on the frontlines, David?
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Definitely Eleni, I do want to touch on some of that Ivan said. And our reporting in the last
few days is very similar in terms of the actions of Russian forces on civilian areas. While Ivan has been in the east and now the central south
of the country, we were in the Kherson region in the last couple of days and saw a very similar pattern from Russian forces.
That city has been largely depopulated. It's right on the front line of the Dnipro River. Russian forces entrenched on the other side, and they are
loving artillery and rocket strikes into civilian areas on a regular basis. And it all forms a pattern, as Ivan said and potentially evidence of
alleged war crimes that seem to be ongoing on a daily basis in this country.
As you say, that President Zelenskyy has been on a frontline tour. He was in the east of the country near Bakhmut. He was also in the Northeast, and
now here to the south of where I'm standing, rallying troops, looking and inspecting on rebuilding efforts in areas that were previously occupied by
Russian forces, Eleni.
And you all feel that it's a deep breath by this country waiting to see whether there will be a counter offensive of some kind. That is where
everyone is looking to see when that might happen, where it will happen.
A senior official of Ukrainian military saying in around Bakhmut, they are making some ground according to him and depleting forces saying it might be
ready for this counter offensive soon. It's impossible to independently verify that, but we do know that there's been intense and heavy fighting
street to street in some cases in that destroyed city in the east for many months no, Eleni?
GIOKOS: Yes, David McKenzie, thank you so much, much appreciated for that insight. All right, we're going to a very short break and we'll be right
back with more CONNECT THE WORLD right after this.
GIOKOS: Ports are a lifeline of global trade handling billions of tons of cargo every year and connecting businesses with customers across the world.
In the bustling Jebel Ali port in Dubai, Anna Stewart discovers how technology is making ports more efficient, and reliable than ever before.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A bustling port where trucks and cranes scurry about moving 14 million containers a year. But something
is missing from this busy picture, people. And that's because this port is smart. Look closer, and you'll see a network of sensors, devices, software,
all communicating with each other in real time.
STEWART (on camera): If you just removed IoT from this port right now, what would happen?
IBRAHIM AL NAJJAR, VICE PRESIDENT IT, DP WORLD: I think we'd go back to the Stone Age of managing and handling cargo, it's--
STEWART (on camera): It will get stuck.
NAJJAR: Yes, that's true.
STEWART (voice over): I'm seeing here right in front of me the Internet of Things in action.
STEWART (on camera): With these joysticks here and it looks a little bit like a video game. Well, I could lift containers up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, this is a real game of life. So, anything you do, it's actually reflected in reality.
STEWART (on camera): Is that to say you don't want me to play it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it's better for all to stay away from it.
STEWART (voice over): From tracking the cargo to monitoring movements, IoT is the backbone, of course, like this, ensuring goods get where they need
to go. So, it's quite fitting that it was actually someone working within logistics and supply chains that coined the term that we use today. In the
late 90s Kevin Ashton was searching for a name for his power point presentation on supply chain logistics, and he wanted it to be catchy.
KEVIN ASHTON, CO-FOUNDER, MIT AUTO-ID CENTER: At that time, the Internet was such a big buzzword, I needed to shoehorn the word internet in to like,
get any attention at all. So, this was a very spontaneous one afternoon. What am I going to call this presentation and it was the internet of
things. And here we are now still talking about it.
STEWART (voice over): A smart device needs to be connected to a network by Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth or even satellite. This allows the data to be sent
somewhere for storage, oftentimes, that's known as the Cloud. From there information can be retrieved for analysis, either in real time or at a
later date, which helps the system owner make informed decisions.
STEWART (on camera): What makes an IoT device good?
ASHTON: The thing that I look forward to make it the Internet of Things is it knows something about the world without a human being telling it. So, I
don't really think about like these voice assistants' people have in their kitchen. And when you say you know Alexa, like add this to my shopping
list. In my world, Alexa would know that you needed to add it to the shopping list, it wouldn't need you to tell it right.
STEWART (on camera): Do you ever feel like the word the term Internet of Things got hijacked? Lots of people have it in their job titles?
ASHTON: Oh, yes. Well, I love that right. I mean, there's like billion- dollar companies built on the back of this phrase.
STEWART (voice over): According to McKenzie, the Internet of Things could unlock over $12 trillion in value globally, helping companies become faster
and more efficient. Anna Stewart CNN.
GIOKOS: Well, it looks like a fun assignment. See more on how the Internet of Things is transforming entire industries this weekend on de-coded, you
don't want to miss it. All right, we're going to very short break, we'll be back right after this.
GIOKOS: All right, welcome back. So, happening right now, I want to take you back to Washington. TikTok CEO, Shou Zi Chew is on Capitol Hill. He is
testifying for lawmakers who are increasingly skeptical of the platform's security practices and its relationship with China's Communist Party. This
is the U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee. Let's listen in.
REP. PAUL TONKO (D-NY): --in particular shown more distressing content.
CHEW: The opposite is true, we actually put in more restrictions to make sure that our teenagers get a better experience.
TONKO: Are expected our new parents show more distressing content.
CHEW: I know of many parents, including one I met recently who actually use our platform to find communities to connect with other parents and learn a
lot more. I've heard amazing stories of creators who have difficulties, you know--
TONKO: Reclaiming my time. Are individuals with eating disorders showing more distressing content?
CHEW: We do not, we remove all content that glorifies eating disorders. And we have worked with experts to look at certain inherently certain content
that may not inherently be harmful, like diet trends, and make sure that we disperse them more throughout our algorithm.
TONKO: What about those with mental health issues or them - more distressing content?
CHEW: If a user searches, you know, words that expresses mental health issues, we actually redirect them to a safety page, like for example, if
you I don't know if I should say this in public, if you search, I want to die, it will redirect you to a safety page, for example.
TONKO: So, what about those suffering from addiction? Are they given more distressing content?
CHEW: I'm sorry, Congressman, I missed that question.
TONKO: Those suffering from addiction, are they given more distressing content?
CHEW: I missed the first few guys. I apologize.
TONKO: What about those suffering from addiction? Are they given more distressing content?
CHEW: Those suffering from--
CHEW: Addiction. Do you mean drug addiction or?
TONKO: Yes, or any order of addiction.
CHEW: If people search for content and you can try on a variety of subjects, we will actually direct you to a safety page to give you more
resources. And a lot of recovering addicts have actually found their communities on TikTok. And it's really helped them, you know, find their
voices and community and the courage to really overcome their addiction. I personally have heard stories of that.
TONKO: Well, I appreciate your answers, but I was looking for yes or no and we did not get those. And again, I think the more that they watch this
distressing content, the more profit TikTok makes. And that's distressing.
RODGERS: Gentleman yields back. Chair recognizes the gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Walberg for five minutes.
REP. TIM WALBERG (R- MI): Thank you, Madam Chair. And we're glad that you're here Mr. Chew. As Chair Rogers and Representative Burgess mentioned
this morning, the Wall Street Journal reported that China will firmly oppose any for sale or divestiture of TikTok.
And this is based not on conjecture, but it's based on comments provided by the official spokesperson at the Ministry of Commerce, who said that any
TikTok sale or spin-off would amount to a technology export, and would have to hear to Chinese law and approval.
This spokesperson was quoted as saying that Chinese and I quote, "The Chinese government will make decisions according to the law, the Chinese
government". Mr. Chew, do you agree with this official? Yes or no.
CHEW: Congressman, I cannot speak on behalf of the Chinese government official.
WALBERG: Do you agree with that official?
CHEW: We will need to look at this because Project Texas is designed to move forward here in the United States. And we are not discussing that. So,
I don't have specifics.
WALBERG: You know your company is valued at upwards of $50 billion and has been on the verge of for sale or banned for three years at least, correct?
Do you expect this committee to believe you haven't already discussed this scenario with your team? And you should have an answer to this yes or no.
I agree with a Communist Party, or I don't agree with the Communist Party. So, I guess I would say at that point, you disagree with a Communist Party.
Explain your discrepancy.
CHEW: Congressman, for two years, we spent a billion and a half U.S. dollars to build Project Texas. This is after very extensive discussions
with Project Texas.
WALBERG: Project Texas is just something expanded for the future. We're talking about now. We're talking about what you're doing now what your
expectations are now, what your relationship is with the Communist Party, which is our major concern of what the impact that will be with a country.
Let me rephrase that with a Communist Party that doesn't care about America and sees us as standing in their way for super power.
That's our concern and for you to have direct relationship, direct ownership with ByteDance. And to not have a characterization or an
agreement or disagreement that you say explicitly with this party policy, it's hard for us to believe what you're saying. Let me move on.
Following up on what - Mr. Latta asked about data access by Chinese engineers. In responding to Mr. Latta, you talked about where American user
data would be stored in the future. But the question was about access today, storage in the future versus access today. This is total
redirection. This blows up any trust we could desire to develop. So, to be clear, Mr. Chew, today, do ByteDance employees in Beijing have access to
CHEW: Congressman, we have been very open about this. We have relied on global interoperability.
WALBERG: You have access to American data.
CHEW: Congressman, I'm answering your question, if you give me just a bit of time. We rely on global interoperability and we have employees in China.
So yes, the Chinese engineers do have access to global data.
WALBERG: You have access to global data?
CHEW: We have heard.
WALBERG: Not storage.
CHEW: No, storage has always been in Virginia and Singapore, the physical server.
WALBERG: You have no access to storage, to American data today.
CHEW: And that's not what I said. I said.
WALBERG: So, you do have access to American data. And you have storage of American data.
CHEW: The American data has always been stored in Virginia and Singapore in the past. And access of this is on an as required basis as required
globally by engineers for business purposes. It's a private company -
WALBERG: By engineers ByteDance?
CHEW: ByteDance -
WALBERG: The Communist Party.
CHEW: No, no.
WALBERG: Why, how can you say that if they have access?
CHEW: This is a private business. And is like many other businesses, many other American companies, we rely on the global workforce
. WALBERG: So, the global workforce that includes ByteDance, which is connected directly to the Chinese Communist Party.
CHEW: That is the characterization that we disagree with. Now, in the future -
WALBERG: That's not what we can disagree with, that's a fact.
CHEW: Is not unfortunately.
WALBERG: With the CEO of ByteDance and your relationship to them.
CHEW: Congressman, respectfully, in my opening statement, I said this is a private company, this own 60 percent by global investors. Three out of the
five board members on ByteDance are Americans this is a private business.
WALBERG: And you report directly to ByteDance with the CEO who's a member of Communist Party.
CHEW: Let me move on. He is not.
WALBERG: I think we got the answer. Sadly, at this point, I believe my time has expired. So, I yield back.
RODGERS: Gentleman yields back. Chair recognizes Ms. Clarke for five minutes.
REP. YVETTE CLARKE (D-NY): Thank you, Chairwoman Rogers, thank the Ranking Member for holding today's hearing. Throughout this hearing, I also want to
thank our witnesses for being here to testify on what are very important issues before us today. Throughout this hearing, my colleagues have
outlined the potential threat posed by the security of Americans data by TikTok being affiliated in some would say owned by a Chinese company.
Foreign adversaries having direct access to Americans data, as well as the ability to influence this content American see on a prolific social media
platform represents an unprecedented threat to American security and to our democracy.
However, the problems of social media platforms content moderation; algorithmic discrimination and safety are neither new nor unique to TikTok.
Mr. Chew, I share the concerns raised by my colleague Congresswoman Matsui related to algorithms.
I believe that without mitigation against bias, platforms will continue to replicate, exacerbate discrimination that is illegal under civil rights
law, as well as exclude important dialogue about sensitive topics like race from occurring on the platform. For example, I was disturbed by reports
that TikTok content moderation algorithm flagged words like black or black lives matter as inappropriate content.
So, my first question Mr. Chew is, do you agree that platforms like TikTok should be subject to regular audits or transparency requirements to
identify whether policies have a disparate impact on communities that are protected classes, like race, religion, national origin or gender.
CHEW: I think, Congresswoman, I think platforms should be very transparent on what they do there and disclose a lot of information; we can get back on
the specifics of what we mean by an audit. But I do agree very strongly that the platform should be very transparent. And it's a commitment that
we're giving to this committee and all our users that our platform will be a place of freedom of expression.
We embrace all diverse points of view, or ethnic minorities, you can come and say whatever you want, as long as you don't violate the rules of safety
that were put in place. And we will, we also commit to be free of all and any government manipulation. So I think I'm in strong agreement of a lot of
what you said.
CLARKE: Well, thank you. My bill, the algorithmic accountability -
GIOKOS: All right, two hours into the testimony of Shou Chew, who is the CEO of TikTok in congress, fielding heated questions from lawmakers both
sides of the aisle wanting to know, wanting answers on what is happening to U.S. user data, whether the Chinese government ultimately has access.
The one question and as this conversation was wrapping up, was whether ByteDance has access to U.S. data. And de facto it does, purely because the
company does have interoperability. Then the big question becomes does that then go and feed through to the Chinese government.
What has been really interesting is looking at the value chain of TikTok, whether the TikTok CEO has access to the ByteDance CEO whether they're in a
regular communication, then the ties to the CCP. And then bring it back to some of the vulnerabilities that exist in terms of content and algorithms
that target young children whether there are safety precautions in place.
And then one of the biggest topics of course, Project Texas, which will mean that U.S. data will be stored in the U.S and then the question, then
becomes, but do they have access in this point in time before Project Texas. We're going to be covering this throughout the next few hours on
CNN, giving you analysis from what we're hearing from lawmakers as well as the TikTok CEO.
Well, thanks so very much for joining us for CONNECT THE WORLD. I will be back with "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" in a few hours, you take care.