TikTok seeks to reassure U.S. lawmakers on data security

Chinese-owned social media web page TikTok advised U.S. senators it was working on a last settlement with the Biden Administration that would “fully safeguard consumer facts and U.S. nationwide safety pursuits,” according to a TikTok letter viewed Friday by Reuters.

The letter dated Thursday arrived in reaction to inquiries elevated in a June 27 letter by a several senators including Republicans Marsha Blackburn and Ted Cruz, TikTok stated.

TikTok, owned by Chinese technologies conglomerate ByteDance, is 1 of the world’s most popular social media apps, with far more than 1 billion active consumers globally. It counts the United States as its largest marketplace.

TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew instructed senators in the letter the small video app was performing with Oracle Corp on “new highly developed information protection controls that we hope to finalize in the around long term.”

Final thirty day period, TikTok claimed it experienced finished migrating U.S. users’ details to servers at Oracle but it was however applying U.S. and Singapore data centers for backup.

TikTok’s letter acknowledged that China-centered staff “can have access to TikTok U.S. user info subject matter to a collection of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based stability group.”

TikTok mentioned it predicted “to delete U.S. users’ guarded info from our personal systems and completely pivot to Oracle cloud servers positioned in the U.S.”

TikTok has sent a response to the senators’ letter, a firm spokesperson stated in a assertion to Reuters. “We appear forward to connecting with users of Congress to talk about the material of our letter.”

TikTok is functioning to make U.S.-based engineering capacity to even further minimize the have to have for facts access throughout regions, the spokesperson added.
Senator Blackburn, of Tennessee, reported TikTok “should have occur cleanse from the start off but as an alternative experimented with to shroud their do the job in secrecy.” She claimed TikTok requires to “come again and testify prior to Congress.”

The TikTok letter came just about two several years soon after a U.S. national protection panel ordered ByteDance to divest TikTok for the reason that of fears that U.S. person details could be handed on to China’s communist government.

That order was not enforced following Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as U.S. president last calendar year. The panel, nevertheless, known as the Committee on International Investment in the United States (CFIUS), is however conducting a national safety evaluation of the organization, according to the letter.

“We know we are amongst the most scrutinized platforms from a safety standpoint and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of U.S. person details,” the letter claimed.

TikTok has stated in the past that workers in China have facts accessibility to U.S. consumer data. In a 2020 blogpost Roland Cloutier, TikTok’s chief information and facts stability officer, reported, “Our objective is to limit knowledge obtain across regions so that, for instance, workforce in the APAC area, including China, would have incredibly nominal entry to person info from the EU and US.”

A BuzzFeed story in June showed ByteDance engineers in China experienced accessibility to U.S. details between September 2021 and January 2022.

Shared algorithms

The letter also explained “ByteDance formulated the algorithms for both equally Douyin and TikTok, and as a result some of the exact same underlying standard technologies making blocks are used by each products.” TikTok is recognized as Douyin in China.

But TikTok’s small business logic, algorithm, integration and deployment of units is specific to the TikTok software and separate from Douyin, the letter said.

Reuters beforehand described that when the code for the application, which establishes the look and sense of TikTok, has been divided from Douyin, the server code was however partially shared throughout other ByteDance merchandise. The server code presents simple performance of the apps this sort of as info storage, algorithms for moderating and recommending information and the administration of person profiles.

The Chinese government took a stake and a board seat in a crucial ByteDance entity in 2021.

TikTok spelled out in its letter to the senators that its acquisition of 1% of Beijing Douyin Data Service Ltd was essential to get a news license in China.

Marcy Willis

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