TikTok hires Panasonic executive to expand compliance function

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TikTok has hired a senior executive from Panasonic Body

an in-flight entertainment and communications company to oversee legal compliance issues related to its popular video-sharing app.

Catherine Razzano has been named chief legal compliance officer for TikTok, effective January 31. His appointment, along with several other hires to TikTok’s U.S. legal team, comes as the social media company continues to face scrutiny over potential security risks posed by its apps, as well as damages. psychological effects that it could cause to young users.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance Ltd., has come under pressure from US lawmakers who see the app as a threat to US national security and a way for the Chinese government to steal people’s personal data. Americans. The Biden administration is crafting regulations that would dramatically expand federal oversight of foreign apps such as TikTok.

The social media company has repeatedly said it does not share US user information with the Chinese government and its data is stored on servers in the US with backup servers in Singapore.

Ms Razzano said in an email that she would help TikTok expand its compliance function as the company continues to grow rapidly. The app, known for its viral dance videos, was the internet’s most visited site in 2021, according to Cloudflare Inc.,

a cloud infrastructure company that tracks internet traffic.

She said she would be based in Los Angeles and report to Microsoft alumnus Matt Penarczyk. Corp.

executive who is now TikTok’s top legal officer in the Americas.

Ms Razzano joined TikTok from Panasonic Avionics Corp., where she was hired in 2018 to help the company strengthen its compliance systems while under independent scrutiny following an investigation into breaches of US anti-corruption law.

TikTok faces a number of concerns, some with legal compliance implications, around data privacy and the app’s potential to negatively affect younger users.

Last year, the US Department of Commerce proposed a rule covering apps that could be used by “foreign adversaries to steal or obtain data,” according to a document filed in the Federal Register.

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The proposed rule, which is under review, would allow the Secretary of Commerce to effectively ban foreign apps deemed unacceptable security risks. This could require social media platforms such as TikTok and other Internet-connected software applications to submit to third-party auditing, source code review, and monitoring of logs that display user data, in accordance to the proposed rule.

TikTok has also come under scrutiny alongside its social media peers, especially Meta Platforms. Inc.

Instagram, on the potential psychological harm it can cause users.

The Wall Street Journal in July published an investigation that illustrated how TikTok’s algorithm could push users browsing the app’s For You feed, its highly personalized homepage serving as an endless stream of content, into burrows. content that is difficult for some to escape. . In a follow-up survey published in September, the Journal showed how young users were pushed into reels of content about sex and drugs.

TikTok said in December it would adjust its algorithm to avoid showing users too much of the same content, in an effort to protect users’ mental wellbeing.

A Wall Street Journal survey found that TikTok only needs one important piece of information to figure out what you want: how long you dwell on a piece of content. Every second you hesitate or review, the app follows you. Photo illustration: Laura Kammermann/The Wall Street Journal

At Panasonic Avionics, Ms. Razzano helped rebuild the company’s ethics and compliance program after the unit reached a settlement with US authorities regarding violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an anti-corruption law.

The company paid $280 million in 2018 as part of a settlement with the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission over allegations that it hired consultants to pay bribes in the Middle East. East and Asia.

Under the agreement, Panasonic Avionics was to hire an independent monitor to oversee a compliance review and ensure the unit’s anti-corruption policies met prosecutors’ expectations. The company said monitoring ended in March.

Write to Dylan Tokar at dylan.tokar@wsj.com

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