WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — U.S. lawmakers grilled the CEO of TikTok over data security and harmful content Thursday while he makes his own case for why the popular video-sharing app shouldn't be banned.

Shou Zi Chew's testimony came at a crucial time for the company, which has acquired 150 million American users but is under increasing pressure from U.S. officials. TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have been swept up in a wider geopolitical battle between Beijing and Washington.

The Biden administration has threatened a nationwide ban of the app unless its owners sell their stake. 

Chew told lawmakers the app prioritizes the safety of its young users and that U.S. data will be protected from foreign access. 

The 40-year-old Singapore native said the company goes above and beyond to ensure TikTok does not post a national security threat. 

ByteDance admitted in December that it fired four employees last summer who accessed data on two journalists, as well as other people connected to them, while attempting to track down the source of a leaked report about the company.

For its part, TikTok has been trying to distance itself from its Chinese origins, saying that 60% percent of its parent company ByteDance is owned by global institutional investors such as Carlyle Group. ByteDance was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs in Beijing in 2012. Responding to a Wall Street Journal report, China said it would oppose any U.S. attempts to force ByteDance to sell the app.

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