TikTok has access to US users’ data

Some Chinese employees of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, have access to data belonging to US users. However, this information is not shared with the Chinese government. There are also “robust cybersecurity protocols”.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew confirmed this in a letter addressed to nine US Senators, Bloomberg reported.

Cloud infrastructure is up and running

According to the general manager, this is limited information, such as public videos and reactions to them. Only Chinese TikTok employees who follow “a number of internal security protocols” are allowed to access this data. American users don’t have to worry about personal data coming into the hands of the Chinese government or the military.

Shou Zi Chew writes in the letter to the Senators that his company is working closely with the US government to better protect information. To this end, the social network ‘Project Texas’ has been created. The goal is to store data of American users only on servers of the American technology company Oracle.

Currently, TikTok stores backups on its own servers in Singapore. This infrastructure is being overhauled. This data will be moved to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure in the near future. This means that user data collected via the app and TikTok’s algorithm will soon be accessible to American users.

Senator: ‘Our fears about the influence of TikTok were justified’

In a response to Bloomberg, the Senators say they are not reassured by the answers from the CEO of TikTok. “TikTok’s response confirms that our fears about the Chinese Communist Party’s influence in the company were well-founded,” Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn told the news agency.

She continues her story. “The China-run company should have been honest from the start, but it tried to shroud its work in secrecy. Americans need to know that if they are on TikTok, Communist China has their information.”

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked Google and Apple to remove the TikTok app from their app stores. The telecom watchdog said it was concerned about how parent company ByteDance handles the data of American users. In its own words, TikTok poses an “unacceptable risk to national security” if it has “uncontrolled access” to sensitive data belonging to US users. Google and Apple have until July 8 to comment.

Former President Trump clashes with TikTok

The US and TikTok have been at odds for some time. It all started when Donald Trump was still in the White House. The former president believed that TikTok posed a threat to national security because it would pass data from US citizens to the Chinese Communist Party and military. If Chinese companies did not do this voluntarily, the government could force them to do so thanks to special cybersecurity legislation. Trump signed a decree banning the download of the TikTok app.

TikTok did not give in easily and challenged the decree. The lawyer argued that a download ban would cause “irreparable damage” to parent company ByteDance. The platform had also taken “extraordinary measures” to protect the privacy and security of personal data.

The court ruled that Trump’s intended ban went too far. There was no concrete evidence that TikTok was guilty of spying for the Chinese government. A ban would also violate freedom of expression. The judge, therefore, blocked the decree, which has never officially entered into force.

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