Tiktok to limit access of Chinese workers to U.S. user data

A deal is being worked out initiated by Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok and the Biden administration that would “fully safeguard” the app in the U.S. and dispel fears about the Chinese government accessing Americans’ data. 

TikTok’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew said in a statement that the ubiquitous social media app is nearing an agreement with the U.S. government to ensure its data-sharing practices do not cause national security concerns.

To fulfill this, TikTok says that all U.S. user traffic is now being routed to servers handled by California-based Oracle, instead of TikTok’s own infrastructure. TikTok also promises to remove all U.S. data from the company’s servers and completely depend on Oracle’s storage “with access limited only to authorized personnel, pursuant to protocols being developed with the U.S. Government,” Chew wrote.

Staff of Beijing-based ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, are able to access data on the app, Chew admitted to U.S. senators. The video-sharing platform has also previously acknowledged that some workers can obtain access to U.S. user data, but the letter had new details.

For example, the data foreign employees can see is a “narrow set of non-sensitive TikTok user data,” including public videos and comments left on videos, Chew wrote. He said none of that data is shared with Chinese government officials and ByteDance employees can only view Americans’ TikTok data after a process of approval spearheaded by the U.S.-based security team.

This system is designed to prevent possible requests for access from Chinese authorities. TikTok has long claimed that Beijing never sought Americans’ information via TikTok, but that possibility has made American lawmakers want to rein in the hugely popular app.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., led by the Treasury Department and top officials from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, continues to coordinate with TikTok on safeguards that aim to satisfy U.S. authorities.

TikTok has more than 1 billion active users worldwide and is the first global social media hit to emanate from China. 

For more information, read the original story in NPR.

IT World Canada Staff
IT World Canada Staff
The online resource for Canadian Information Technology professionals.

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