After years of mounting pressure, TikTok has provided US lawmakers with more details on how to restrict China’s access to US data in a new message .
According to the letter to nine of the app’s top Republican critics, the platform is working on a deal with the Biden administration that would completely protect the app in the US and allay concerns about the Chinese government’s access to Americans’ data.
In the letter, TikTok CEO Xu Zhiqiu detailed how the company planned to separate US user data from ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok.
Chiu also explained TikTok’s plan to store US user data on Oracle servers. He wrote that the company is close to concluding a final agreement with the US government to ensure that data-sharing practices do not raise national security concerns.
“We are proud of our ability to serve a global community of over a billion people who use TikTok to express themselves creatively and have fun,” Chiu said in the letter. And we know that we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security point of view. We aim to remove any doubt about the security of user data in the United States.
The company says US user data is now routed to servers controlled by Oracle. And that’s instead of Tik Tok’s infrastructure.
Chiu wrote that he hopes to soon delete all US data from the company’s servers. And rely entirely on Oracle storage with limited access only to authorized personnel, according to protocols being developed with the US government.
Soon after a report emerged that ByteDance engineers in China were able to access US data as late as January 2022, Republican senators questioned Qiu about the company’s data security practices in a letter in June.
Claims for app stores to ban Tik Tok
Republican senators raised new concerns about TikTok after the report detailing the type of access that employees based in China have to Americans’ data.
The letter also raised concerns that company officials did not provide real and frank answers at the committee’s hearing in light of the report.
In response to the letter, Senator Marsha Blackburn issued a statement calling on Chiu to testify before Congress again.
“The TikTok response confirms that our concerns about the influence of the Chinese Communist Party within the company are well-founded,” Blackburn said. And they should have been clear from the start. But they tried to keep their work secret instead.
“Americans need to know that Communist China has their information if they use Tik Tok,” she added. The company needs to come back and testify before Congress.
Since 2020, Republicans have raised concerns about the app’s popularity among US users. They accused the app of sharing US data directly with the Chinese government.
Former President Donald Trump signed an executive order in late August of 2020 banning the app in the United States. But federal judges overturned the order. While Republicans continued to press the application.
Brendan Carr, the Federal Communications Commission commissioner, recently wrote a letter to Google and Apple requesting that TikTok be removed from app stores because it poses a serious national security threat. But the FCC does not have the authority to ban apps.
The Biden White House has not followed Trump’s lead. But the administration continued national security negotiations with the company to ensure that Americans’ data was secure.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States continues to work with the platform on safeguards that satisfy the US authorities.