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The NYT’s Ed Lee calls TikTok CEO’s congressional testimony ‘brutal’

Congressional Hearing on TikTok Brings to Light Questions of Chinese Involvement and Online Platform Accountability

  • The hearing regarding TikTok was largely political
  • Bipartisanship was observed, with both sides attempting to appear tough on China
  • It is unclear if actual harm is being done by TikTok, as opposed to potential harm
  • There is a push for reform of Section 230 which would hold platforms liable for content on their platform
  • The focus of the hearing was primarily on China
  • Older data has not yet been quarantined, and this could add fuel to those who wish to ban TikTok.

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ONLY WHEN THEY COMPLETE THEIR DATA STORAGE PROJECT IN THEIR WORK WITH ORACLE.ONLY THEN CHINESE EMPLOYEES CANNOT ACCESS U.S. DATA AND THATIS SAID TO HAPPEN LATER THIS YORE. >> STAY WITH US AS WE BRING IN ED LEE.ED, I DON'T MEAN TO BE CYNICAL HERE, BUT DO THE MERITS OF THE CASE AT THIS POINT REALLY MATTER?IN OTHER WORDS, IS WHAT REALLY MATTERS HERE THE POLITICS OF THECASE?PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE SAYING I'M TOUGH ON CHINA.NO, I'M TOUGH ON CHINA AND HERE'S HOW WE'RE GOING TO TAKE IT OUT ON THIS COMPANY. >> TYLER, YOUR CYNICISM IS WELL FOUNDED.YEAH, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE POLITICS.THESE HEARINGS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A MOMENT FOR THESE GUYS TO GRANDSTAND BUT THIS BIPARTISANSHIP WAS ASTOUNDING.ALSO IT WAS BRUTAL IF YOU LOOKEDAT IT CAREFULLY.HE WAS TAKING THE BRUNT -- TIKTOK IS TAKING THE BRUNT FOR TWO THINGS HERE, RIGHT?SORT OF THE PERVASIVE PROBLEMS OF TECHNOLOGY ALTOGETHER AS WELLAS THE CHALLENGES COMING FROM CHINA, RIGHT?SO I THINK THEY JUST UNLEASHED ALL OF THEIR ANGER AND FRUSTRATION AROUND THESE ISSUES IN THIS ONE HEARING AGAINST THISONE MAN AND THIS ONE COMPANY.SO YEAH, I THINK POLITICS IS REALLY WHAT'S THE BIGGEST FACTORHERE.IN TERMS OF THE FACTS, IN TERMS OF WHETHER DATA IS ACTUALLY BEING SHARED OR USED OR MANIPULATED IN SOME WAY, WE DON'T KNOW, RIGHT?SO I THINK THAT'S WHAT CONGRESS AND ULTIMATELY THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION WILL BE LOOKING FOR IS THE POTENTIAL FOR THIS HARM VERSUS THE ACTUAL HARM AS THEY DID WITH HUAWEI.THE HUAWEI BAN WAS FOUNDED ON THAT IDEA AS WELL.WE DON'T REALLY KNOW EXACTLY WHAT IF OR THEY'RE DOING WITH THIS EQUIPMENT BUT THAT THEY COULD IS THE ISSUE. >> TWO THINGS STRIKE ME ABOUT THE POLITICAL RISKS TO THIS.ONE, IF YOU WERE TO BAN A CERTAIN TYPE OF CAR OR GOLF, YOUWOULD HAVE YOUR CONSTITUENTS OUTRAGED.150 MILLION PEOPLE USING TIKTOK,JULIA.ARE THE LAWMAKERS UNAFRAID OF THE POLITICAL BACKLASH HERE, BECAUSE MUCH OF THAT AUDIENCE ISTOO YOUNG TO VOTE OR JUST, DON'TAND, TWO, WHEN YOU LOOK AT FACEBOOK AND TWITTER, WE KNOW THAT THOSE PLATFORMS WERE USED BY BOTS TO INFLUENCE AMERICANS' BEHAVIOR IN THE 2020 ELECTION.SO WHY AREN'T THEY UNDER THE SAME AMOUNT OF SCRUTINY?>> WELL, THERE ARE A LOT OF QUESTIONS PACKED IN THERE, CONTESSA, BUT I THINK THERE WAS A NOTABLE PUSH TO REFORM SECTION230 IN THIS TESTIMONY TODAY AND IN THIS HEARING IN THE SENSE THAT THERE HAS TO BE SOME SENSE OF THESE PLATFORMS BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE.WHAT SECTION 230 DOES IS MEANS THE PLATFORMS ARE NOT LIABLE FORTHE CONTENT ON THEIR PLATFORM.IF THERE WERE A SECTION 230 REFORM, THAT WOULD BE CHALLENGING FOR META, TWITTER AND SNAP BUT PRIMARILY META AND TWITTER MORE THAN THE OTHERS, SOTHAT WOULD BE CHALLENGING THERE TOO.SO THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT MOREREFORM OF SOME OF THESE LAWS COULD BE CHALLENGING FOR THE OTHER TECH COMPANIES.THE REAL FOCUS OF THE HEARING TODAY WAS ON CHINA.QUESTION AFTER QUESTION AFTER QUESTION ABOUT HOW MUCH THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT CONTROLS, WHETHER THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY HAS INFLUENCE, WHICH TIKTOK IS A CHINESE-OWNED COMPANY.SO MANY QUESTIONS CENTERING ON CHINA.AND THAT'S WHAT DIFFERENTIATES THIS DEBATE FROM THAT WHICH I HEARD WHEN I WAS REPORTING ON ALL THE TIMES MARK ZUCKERBERG WAS TESTIFYING ABOUT THE QUESTIONS OF MANIPULATION ON HISPLATFORM.SO I THINK THAT'S WHY IT'S BEINGTREATED THIS TIME AROUND. >> ED, I WAS SORT OF STUNNED TO HEAR WHAT JULIA REPORTED, AND THAT IS THAT, QUOTE, OLDER DATA IS NOT YET QUARANTINED.THIS ALL AWAITS KIND OF A PROCESS INVOLVING ORACLE.IT WON'T BE DONE UNTIL LATER THIS YEAR.I MEAN THAT WOULD CERTAINLY ADD FUEL TO THE FIRES OF THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO BAN TIKTOK, WOULDN'T IT?>> IT ABSOLUTELY WOULD.YOU KNOW, SORT OF DECOUPLING THIS DATA, I WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THAT IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED A WHILE AGO.SO THE REPORTING THERE IS ACTUALLY -- YOU KNOW, IS IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT.BEIJING ALSO DIDN