After growing fears that TikTok engineers in China had access to US users’ data between September 2021 and January 2022, the company sought to placate US lawmakers that it was taking steps to “strengthen data security”.
The acknowledgment that some employees based in China had access to information from US users came in a letter sent to nine senators, which further indicated that the measure required individuals to scan several Homeland Security protocols.
The contents of the message, first reported by The New York Times , shares more details about TikTok’s plans to address data security concerns through a multi-pronged initiative codenamed “Project Texas.”
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew wrote in: “Employees outside the United States, including employees based in China, can access US TikTok user data subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our security team in the States. United”. note.
This includes what it calls a narrow set of non-sensitive US TikTok user data, such as public videos and comments, to meet interoperability requirements, while emphasizing that such access will be “very limited” in scope and according to protocols developed in cooperation with the US government.
TikTok, a popular social video-sharing service from Beijing-based ByteDance, has long been in the crosshairs of US lawmakers over the national security risks that could arise from the Chinese government’s request for US users’ data directly from its parent company.
But in the letter, the company aims to reassure that it has never been asked to provide data to Chinese authorities and that it will not accept such government inquiries .
TikTok further reiterated that 100% of US user data is routed to the US-based Oracle Cloud Core, and that it is working with the enterprise software company on more advanced data security controls that it hopes to finalize “in the near future.”
Furthermore, the ByteDance-owned company said it plans to delete US data from its backup servers in Singapore and the US and switch entirely to Oracle cloud servers located in the US.
The latest wave of scrutiny of TikTok comes on the heels of a report from BuzzFeed News alleging that ByteDance employees allege repeated access by ByteDance employees, citing anonymous employees, who said “everything is seen in China” and referred to a “key manager” “has access to everything”.
The company described the allegations and insinuations as “incorrect and not supported by facts,” noting that people working on these projects “have no vision of the whole picture.”