Zhou Qiu says the app will “never” share user data with the Chinese government and vows to fight the ban in the US state.
Doha, Qatar – TikTok is “here to stay,” said the video hosting company’s CEO, Shaw Chiu, calling the US state of Montana’s decision to ban it “unconstitutional.”
Various governments and organizations have begun banning the Chinese-owned app from phones used by their officials, with some claiming that user data collected by the app could be accessed by the Chinese government.
Chew, who insisted his company will win the lawsuit against Montana’s ban, said some of the app’s users in the U.S. have also filed a separate lawsuit against the ban, which will take effect Jan. 1. next year.
“Montana’s bill is simply unconstitutional, and we are confident we will win [in the lawsuit]Chiu said at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on Tuesday.
Last month, Montana lawmakers passed a bill banning the app from operating in the state, barring mobile app stores from offering TikTok for download.
Chew claimed the app has more than 150 million users in the US and more than a billion worldwide. He added that it gives users a window for discovery and “free expression.”
“It [TikTok] a very different experience from other apps on the market. Many of our users use TikTok to find their communities, and there are five million small businesses in the US and millions more around the world that depend on TikTok,” he said.
“Here to Stay”
When asked to reveal his “plan B” in case TikTok is banned worldwide, Chu said the app serves millions of people around the world and is “profoundly influential.”
“It gives me confidence that we can have very thoughtful conversations with regulators around the world, and we’re here to stay.”
In March, the Singaporean head of Chinese tech company ByteDance appeared before a US congressional committee and sought to allay concerns about the app’s ties to the Chinese government and its alleged inability to curb “harmful” content.
Chew said it was a good opportunity for the app to tell its side and clear up “myths and misconceptions” about it, which it says are not available in mainland China.
“The Chinese government has never asked for US user data, and we won’t [it] even if asked,” Chu told the audience, some of whom could be seen posting Chu’s speech on the app itself.
Data protection plans
The 40-year-old businessman said his company has built an “unprecedented project” called Project Texas to protect the data of its US-based users.
“American data is stored on American soil by an American company and monitored by American personnel,” Chew said.
The $1.5 billion plan, which he said is “a complex project that will take time to complete,” is based on contracts with Texas-based technology company Oracle and uses “a firewall that blocks protected user data from unauthorized foreign access.” :
“We believe we have taken steps that go beyond our industry to protect the security of US users’ data,” Chu asserted.
He revealed that the tech company has been working on a similar plan in Europe for the past few months, called Project Clover.
He warned that no technology company can promise that 100 percent of its data is protected from all threats.