TikTok assures US lawmakers it is working to protect user data of Chinese staff

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Following increased concerns that US users’ data had been accessed by TikTok engineers in China between September 2021 and January 2022, the company sought to convince US lawmakers it is taking steps to “strengthen data security.”

The acknowledgment that some China-based employees have access to information belonging to US users came in a letter to nine senators, who further noted that the procedure requires the individuals to clear numerous internal security protocols.

The contents of the letter, 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.”

“Workers outside the US, including employees based in China, can access TikTok user data in the US that is subject to a set of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team,” wrote TikTok CEO Shou See Chew in the message. note.

This includes what it calls a limited set of non-sensitive U.S. TikTok user data, such as public videos and comments, to meet interoperability requirements, stressing that this access will be “very limited” in scope and in accordance with protocols that are in place. developed in conjunction 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 national security risks that could arise from the Chinese government requesting US users’ data directly from its parent company. .

But in the letter, the company wanted to reassure that it has never been asked to provide any data to the Chinese authorities and that it would not join such government questions

TikTok went on to reiterate that 100% of US user data is forwarded to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure in the US, and that it is working with the enterprise software company on more advanced data security checks that it hopes to complete “in the near future.”

In addition, the ByteDance company said it plans to remove US data from its own backup servers in Singapore and the US and switch completely to Oracle cloud servers in the US.

The latest wave of investigation into TikTok follows a report from BuzzFeed News that alleged frequent access by ByteDance staff, citing anonymous employees, who said “everything is seen in China” and referred to a “Master Admin” who “accesses has to everything.”

The company called the allegations and innuendo “false and unsupported by facts”, noting that people working on these projects “don’t see the full picture”.