Senators urge US Justice Department to probe TikTok, Zoom

FILE PHOTO: The Zoom Video Communications logo is pictured at the NASDAQ MarketSite in New York, New York, U.S., April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Senators Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, and Josh Hawley, a Republican, wrote to the U.S. Justice Department on Thursday to urge a probe of video technology company Zoom and Chinese-owned social media company TikTok.

The lawmakers said Americans, many of whom are largely staying home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, were substituting Zoom calls for personal interaction and binging on TikTok videos.

“We believe that it is imperative that the Department of Justice investigate and determine whether Zoom and TikTok’s business relationships, data handling practices, and operational connections to China pose a risk to Americans,” they wrote.

The two senators said the companies sought to downplay their ties with China.

“Based on numerous reports, we are extremely concerned that Zoom and TikTok have disclosed private information about Americans to the [People’s Republic of China] and engaged in censorship on behalf of the Chinese government,” they said in the letter to Assistant Attorney General John Demers.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Zoom said in a statement it takes “user privacy, security, and trust extremely seriously, and as always, we welcome conversations with officials about our global business practices and policies.”

Zoom shares, which traded up 1% earlier Thursday, fell by more than 5% after Reuters reported the letter but later recovered some losses. Its share price was down 1% in late trading Thursday at $249.93.

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has said that it stores all data in the United States with backup in Singapore.

“Our content and moderation policies are led by our U.S.-based team in California and aren’t influenced by any foreign government,” the company said in an email statement. “We’ve never shared TikTok user data with the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked.”

Although a California company, Zoom has big research and development centers in China that have more than 700 employees, according to a filing it made to the U.S. government.

Reuters

 

Singapore Reporter/s

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Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.