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China has access to the personal data of TikTok users


According to S. Silver

While TikTok has promised for years that its U.S. user data will be stored in the United States and not in China, a new investigation by Buzzfeed News has found that Chinese employees of TikTok's parent company Bytedance regularly accessed non-public user data. In a report titled "TikTok Recordings," Buzzfeed News received audio recordings of more than eighty internal TikTok encounters. The records, according to a Buzzfeed report, "contain 14 claims from nine different TikTok employees indicating that engineers in China had access to U.S. customer data between at least September 2021 and January 2022."

“The Chinese see whatever they want,” said one TikTok employee. Due to similar concerns, then-President Donald Trump wanted to ban TikTok in the United States and later initiated the sale of the company's US operations to Oracle. This deal was never completed and the proposed ban was never implemented.

TikTok released a statement to Buzzfeed: "We know we are one of the most rigorously vetted platforms in terms of security, and we are committed to removing any concerns about the security of user data in the US," the company said. "That's why we hire experts in our fields, constantly work to validate our security standards, and engage reputable, independent third parties to test our security." In addition, TikTok is working on an initiative called Project Texas, under which certain data "will no longer be able to flow from the US to China," according to Buzzfeed News.

The log shows that TikTok is now routing all user traffic from the US to Oracle's cloud infrastructure. The report describes it as "an attempt to allay US regulators' concerns about data integrity in the popular short video app, given that it is owned by China": "Today, 100% of US user traffic is directed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. We continue to use our data centers in the US and Singapore for backup, but as we continue our operations, we plan to remove the personal data of US users from our own data centers and switch entirely to Oracle cloud servers located in the US.” reported Albert Kalamug, head of US public policy at TikTok. “In addition, we are working closely with Oracle to develop data management protocols that Oracle will validate and guide to further reassure users,” Kalamug added.

However, such a move is "unlikely to sway those concerned about China's influence."


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