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tv   Washington Journal Mary Gay Scanlon  CSPAN  October 26, 2021 8:36pm-9:06pm EDT

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assuming mr. beckerman that your company will make the research available. ms. miller? >> we have published some research and will make additional available. sen. blumenthal: let me now ask about the black box algorithms. as you know, these algorithms exist and function to drive sometimes toxic content to kids. more of it and more extreme versions of it, and the consequences are potentially catastrophic. but the companies are evaluating their own effects on kids when it comes to addiction and harms. let me ask a similar question. do you provide external independent researchers with access to your algorithms, data
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sets, and data privacy practices? in other words, if an academic researcher comes to you and wants to determine whether one of your products causes teen mental health issues or addiction, with a get access to -- will they get access to the raw data from you without interference? >> so, senator, it's important to remember that on snapchat, algorithms work very differently. very little of our content is sorted algorithmically. sen. blumenthal: i want to apologize. i am going to interrupted to the question is about access to independent research. on those algorithms that you do use. and there's no question that you do have algorithms. correct? >> correct, we do have algorithms, but they operate differently. to your question on whether we
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have had requests from outside researchers or mental health specialists to access that, to my knowledge, we have not. sen. blumenthal: but would you provide access to that? >> yes. it is important to understand that algorithms for us operate differently. to compare them to different platforms it is different things -- compare them to different platforms is different things. sen. blumenthal: that is one of the things that an external researcher would verify. >> yes, senator, we believe that the transparency is important. we were one of the first companies to publish publicly a deep dive and how the old rhythm works. we invite experts and you, senator and steph, to come see how the algorithm works. additionally, it's important to give choice to people. with tiktok, in your feet, you can indicate you are not interested and we are trying to give transparency to individuals. sen. blumenthal: so, external
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access. ok. ms. miller. >> senator, we are very transparent with the way our machine learning works. for example, our quarterly transparency report that summarizes the videos and channels we removed based on by lighting our community guidelines. earlier this year, we rolled out an additional statistic. the violate view rate. sen. blumenthal: i apologize for interrupting. the question is whether you provide external independent researchers with access to your algorithms and data sets. do you allow that? >> i'm sorry? sen. blumenthal: do you provide that access? >> we regularly partner with experts in child development mental health. sen. blumenthal: those are experts chosen by you.
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if somebody independent came and wanted that access, yes or no, would you provide it? >> senator, it depends on the details, but we always look to partner with experts in these important fields. sen. blumenthal: well, i will cite the difference between your response and mr. beckerman and ms. stout, which indicates hesitancy, if not resistance to providing access. let me ask you, ms. miller, do you think one of the issues here really relates to the claim that these sites are not transparent and truthful, which is belied by experience? the fact that they favor regulation. facebook has mounted armies of lawyers and have paid millions of dollars to fight regulations. whether it is responsible reforms in section 230 or privacy legislation or requirements to be more
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transparent on algorithms. according to the details made public last week in a multistate antitrust case, google has sought a coordinated effort to forestall and diminish child privacy protections in the proposed regulations by the ftc and by legislation. that filing describes attempts to encourage facebook and microsoft to fight privacy rules and back down on efficacy for -- on advocacy for legislation in a particular meeting where that exchange occurred. this disclosure made news. everybody in d.c. really knew it was true. what was new is that google's hypocrisy was finally called out -- was finally called out. the fact is that google and youtube has been fighting against privacy behind the scenes for years. it is hidden in plain sight, and
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it is an open secret. you have been lobbying the ftc to weaken the existing privacy rule. you have spent vast sums of money fighting california's privacy rules. i want to ask, what work youtube has done to lobby against congress strengthening online protections for children? is that report and that claim by the multistate plaintiffs accurate? >> senator, i understand the material you are referencing was regarding our point of view on e -- point of view on e-privacy legislation in europe. our ceo has regularly called for comprehensive privacy legislation in the u.s. and on behalf of youtube, i am not aware of any efforts other than to be involved in conversations and a -- in a multi-stakeholder way as
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it relates to any bills that are introduced regarding the oversight or regulation of companies such as youtube. sen. blumenthal: the reports of political pressure and lobbying against children's privacy and safeguards are totally false? >> i think we work with lawmakers such as yourself regularly to have conversations. to share what we are doing on the platform and the updated protections we are putting into place, but also to hear your concerns. to work with you as you contemplate new regulations. sen. blumenthal: will you commit you will support privacy legislation, as has been proposed? >> senator, i'm not steeply involved in the details of any specific privacy legislation. but i commit we will work with you and partner with you on federal privacy legislation.
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sen. blumenthal: would you support a ban on targeted advertising to children and young teens? >> at youtube, we prohibit personalized advertising on youtube kids, as well as unsupervised experiences. -- as on supervised experiences. sen. blumenthal: would you support a ban in law? >> we have not waited for laws to put those protections into place. sen. blumenthal: i hope that you will and that you will be more forthcoming in the next round of questioning. i will turn it over. to the ranking member. >> thank you mr. chairman. mr. beckerman, i want to come to you first. in the past, tiktok has said it has never nor would it ever share or provide user data to the chinese government, even if asked. yet your privacy policy says you can disclose data collected to respond to government inquiries. it also says you shared data you collect with parent companies
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and affiliates and that you transmit user information to servers and data centers overseas. and earlier this year, the chinese communist party acquired an ownership state and a seat on the board of bytedance. does tiktok share data with its parent company, bytedance? >> this is an important question and i am glad you are asking. >> quickly, please. >> we do not share information with the chinese government and i would like to share a citizen lab report which is a respected global security expert. they said research shows there is no dratted data transmission to the chinese government. the report goes on to state that tiktok does not pose a threat to national security and i would be able to submit that for the record. >> please submit that for the record. do any bytedance employees have
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access to the data? >> the data is stored in the united states and the backups are in singapore. we have a world-renowned u.s.-based security team that has access. -- that handles access. >> i understand you say you store it in singapore. tell me about programmers and product developers in the data teams. are they housed in china? >> like many technology companies, we have engineers in the united states and around the world. >> so they have access to algorithms and data? >> we have engineers in the united states and we have engineers -- so the answer is yes. >> what about -- bytedance says they are fully separate. what about doyenne employees. >> that is a completely different app from tiktok.
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>> if the chinese company asked you for user data, what stops you from for writing it since they have a seat on the financial board of bytedance and a financial stake in the company ? >> senator, that's not accurate. they do not have a stake in tiktok at all. >> yes they do, it happened in august. that is bytedance. we can clarify that for the record. the record is the chinese communist party acquired a stake in bytedance in august and have a seat on the board. so let's talk about tiktok's privacy policy. it says you collect and keep a wide variety of information, including biometric data such as face prince, voice prints, geolocation information, browsing, and search history, not just on tiktok, but on other apps, and keystroke patterns and
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rhythms. why do you need this personal data? especially on our children which seems to be more than any other platform collects? >> senator, many outside researchers and experts that look at this have proven that tiktok collects less data than peers on the keystroke issues. >> outside researchers you are paying for? >> no, senator. >> you would submit that to outside independent researchers? what we are seeing with all of this biometric data and the keystroke patterns that you are exceeding that. so what do you do with this? are you creating a virtual you of the children on your site? >> senator, i don't know what you mean by virtual you. >> a virtual you is you and your presence online. like a virtual dossier. i'm sure you understand that term.
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what do you need with all of this information? do you track the viewing problem -- viewing patterns of children? are you building a replication of where they go? their search history, their voice, their biometrics? whitest tiktok and bite dance -- and bytedance and need that information on our children? >> senator, tiktok is an entertainment platform where people watch and enjoy short form videos. it is about uplifting and entertaining content and people love it. i disagree with the characterization. >> that is it from the positive, but there's also a negative. and the negative is that you are building a profile, a virtual you of our children, because of the data you are collecting. you have mentioned the family parent provision that you have.
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so, when you have a parent that goes on that, are they opening their data to tiktok? is tiktok following them? following and capturing their search history? when you capture all of this data and you hold all of this data, you are invading the property and the privacy of individuals on your site. and that applies to you and to ms. stout and ms. miller. because you say that because you are using the platform, that we can do this. in essence, what you are doing is making our children and their data -- you are making that the product, because you turn around and you sell it. and then basically, it becomes weaponized against their users.
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mr. chairman, i'm over time, and i have several questions for ms. stout and ms. miller and we will do that in a second round. sen. blumenthal: we will do that in a second round. senator klobuchar. >> thank you to both of you. reports indicate that half of kids 9-12 and those over 13 use snap, facebook, tiktok, you two. i don't think parents are going to stand by while our kids and our democracy become collateral damage to a prophet king. i heard last night mark zuckerberg's words in his earnings report. while he may be out there acting as a victim at his 29 billion-dollar quarter earnings report meeting, the true victims
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are the mom in duluth who cannot get her kid off facebook to do her homework. the dead who is mourning losing a child to a speed filter that measured the kid at going 123 miles an hour, trying to beat the filter. or a child exposed to content glorifying eating disorders on tiktok. i have had a kiss right in my state, actually two cases of young people who got drugs through snap. i want to first start out with that stout. there are two kids. devon was suffering from dental pain at the beginning of the pandemic and he could not see the doctor. he had been given a percocet before and a classmate said he
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had a percocet. what the young man did not know was the percocet was laced with fentanyl, and he died, just like that. as his mom said in a letter to me, all the hopes and dreams that we as parents had for devon were erased in the blink of an eye. a group of parents, including devon's mother, bridget, demanded answers and accountability from snap. in a letter to you in september, ms. stout, i want to know what the answers are. will you commit to providing more information about the automated tools that snap uses to proactively search for illegal drug related content as parents ask? >> senator, i very much appreciate you raising this issue of a devastating crisis impacting our young people. i want to make clear, we are determined to remove drug
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dealers from snapchat, and we have been public about our efforts in this space. first of all, we have stepped up operational efforts. my heart goes out to the families. i have met with bridget back in april and i heard from her and other families to understand what is happening with their experience and also what is happening on snapchat. we have deployed proactive detection measures to get ahead of what the drug dealers are doing. they are constantly evading our tactics. not just on snapchat, but every platform. we have also stepped up our work with law enforcement. just last week, we had a law enforcement summit, where we gathered over 2,000 members of law enforcement from across the country to understand what they are dealing with and to find the best practices to get them the information they need to help with their investigation. senator, this is so important. we have deployed an education and awareness campaign. because what is happening on our platforms across social
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media and technology is that young people suffering from mental health and stress induced by the pandemic and other issues, they are reaching for substances. oftentimes, pills and opioids. but these substances are laced with enough fentanyl to kill them. >> here is my problem. if a kid walked into a pharmacy, they would not be able to buy that or get that. but in this case, they can get onto your platform and find a way to buy it. that is the problem. i want to know, are you going to get your drug -- i appreciate you meeting with the mom come are you going to get the drugs off snap chat when you have other kids in america looking at these platforms? >> i assure you, this is a top priority for our company. senator, it is not just happening on our platform, but it's happening on others. we need to work collectively with the other platforms and companies here today to work
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together. >> that's good. thank you. i think there are other ways to do this, such as creating liability when this happens so that might make you work even faster sir we don't -- faster so we don't lose another kid. mr. beckerman, recent investigation by the wall street journal found that tiktok's algorithms can push young users to content glorifying eating disorders, drugs, and violence. have you stopped that? >> yes, senator. i don't agree with the way the wall street journal when around that. -- went around that. we have made improvements to the way people can have control of the algorithm and have age-appropriate content on tiktok. >> what are those changes? are kids completely protected from this content? >> the content related to drugs, as you are pointing out, violates our community guidelines. over 97% of violent content is removed proactively. we want to get to 100% and that is what we are working on.
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-- something that we are constantly working on. >> are you we are of research your company has conducted about pushing content promoting eating disorders to teens? >> no, senator. >> did you offer studies before testifying? >> not that i'm aware of, but we work with outside experts understand the issues. i think it should be done in a transparent way. i would like to see the act passed so we can have additional research in the public domain we can all learn from and improve. >> i will save my questions for ms. miller for the next round. thank you. >> thank you, senator klobuchar. i would remind everyone, have committed to provide the research -- you have committed to provide the research and we look forward to receiving it within days or weeks, not months. particularly appreciate senator klobuchar's reference to creating liability as a strong
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incentive, which would involve reform of section 230. >> mr. chair, if i could put this letter from the parents and to record. -- into the record. sen. blumenthal: without objection. >> thank you. sen. blumenthal: we have been joined by senator cantwell remotely. >> mr. chairman, i defer to my colleagues. senator markey. senator baldwin. sen. blumenthal: thanks very much. senator markey. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. the problem is clear, big tech preys on children and teens to make more money. now is the time for the legislative solutions to these problems. and that starts with privacy. i have introduced bipartisan legislation to give children and teens the privacy bill of rights for the 21st century. today, a 13-year-old girl on these apps has no privacy rights. she has no ability to say no.
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no, you cannot gobble up data about me. no, you cannot use the data to power algorithms that push toxic content towards me. no, you cannot profile me to manipulate me and keep me glued to your apps. no, you have no rights. a 13-year-old girl in the united states of america in the year 2021. my bipartisan children and teens online privacy protection act gives 13, 14, and 15-year-olds the right to say no. to each witness, do you support my legislation to update the children's online privacy protection act to give that 13-year-old, 14-year-old, and 15-year-old that control of their data? ms. stout? >> senator, i want to say i
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>> senator, i want to say absolutely support a federal privacy proposal and worked hard with members of this body. sen. markey: do you support my child and teen protection? >> senator, we agree there should be additional protections to protect young people . sen. markey: so you have had a chance to look at the child online protection update that has been online for years ? >> we would like to talk more about the issues. s this drives usen crazy. . markey: back being updated? >> thank you for your leadership on the issue. we agree it needs to be updated
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as it relates to the weight age verification happens across the internet, an area that has been not given as much attention as it deserves and we agree and we agree it needs to be updated. sen. markey: you support my legislation? you have plenty of time to look at it. we like the approach but the peace that should be included is a better way to verify age across the internet and apps rather than a system in place now. without improvement, we would be happy to support it. sen. markey: miss miller. >> we also support the goals of updated, comprehensive privacy legislation. we have had conversations with your staff in a constructive manner and i would welcome continuing to do that. sen. markey: it will happen soon. this is a crisis -- thank you,
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senator blumenthal. this has surfaced in a way it is clear we do not have time. we have to get this finished. among young teens, 49% say they're on tiktok and 52% are on snapchat. 81% are on youtube. those 13-year-olds deserve the right to sate you cannot track me. do you agree with that? do you agree with that? yes, i agree with that. >> yes, senator. chair blumenthal: do you agree with that? >> yes and we have tools for users to handle, control and make choices as it relates to the information that is gathered. chair blumenthal: the bill would be targeted at two children that should never be allowed to track a 10-year-old's browsing history and bombard him with ads based on the data. ms. miller, you said that the youtube kids platform prevents targeted ads to children. do you agree that congress must
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ban targeted ads to children? >> i differed to you interns of what you would want to move forward. we have not waited for laws like this. chair blumenthal: would you support a uniform banning of the practice if you have adopted it as a country -- company? would you support the standard we have for all platforms across the country? >> it is consistent with the approach we have taken. sen. markey: you would support it? >> we are already doing this. sen. markey: we are trying to draft a law. would you support it being in? >> we already prohibit targeted advertising. sen. markey: we can legislate
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it. so that we can legislate. same question. should kids ban targeted ads? >> we offer those tools already where kids cannot doubt -- can opt out. sen. markey: would you support that as a national law? >> an example has been and the design code we adhere to and i can tell you we are looking at that model. sen. markey: do you support it at this law this body passes? should we prohibit it? >> we agree with the approach. sen. markey: you support it? yes or no? >> we agree with the approach so we are applying it. sen. markey: if you support it, would you support the law that would prohibit anyone else from doing it. >> yes. >> i think we are close, centre, -- senator. >> we should go beyond that
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intake it -- and take certain categories that we do not show to young adults or teenagers. chair blumenthal: so we need to go beyond privacy to tackle the design features that harm young people. to take the like buttons. senator blumenthal and i have -- i have a bill, the kids act which would ban these and other , features according to popularity. the research is clear this turns apps into virtual popularity contests. they are linked to feelings of rejection low self-worth and , depression. even youtube kids has acknowledged the problem and does not have like buttons. should congress ban features that quantify popularity for kids, yes or no? >> as i mentioned in my opening statement we have never had a like button and so we would support that. we do not think it should be a popularity context.

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