To assuage senators’ fears that TikTok is disclosing personal information about American users to its staff in China, the video app’s CEO said that TikTok is only disclosing a “narrow” slice of user data.
In response to nine Republican senators’ inquiry this week “demanding answers on TikTok’s backdoor data access for Beijing,” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew issued a letter dated June 30 to China’s communist regime’s nine senators. Concerns about TikTok posing a national security risk have been around for a while. TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance was ordered by President Trump in August 2020 to sell majority control of TikTok to American organizations, which was blocked by U.S. federal courts.
Many of Your Questions Appear to Originate from A Recent Buzz Feed Piece that Contains Assertions and Insinuations that Are False and Unsupported by Facts,” Chew Wrote in A Letter to The Republican Senators.
TikTok staff in China have “repeatedly” accessed data from U.S.-based users, according to a BuzzFeed News story published on June 17. In order to “substantially progress toward compliance with a final agreement with the United States Government that will completely safeguard user data and U.S. national security concerns,” according to Chew, TikTok has provided access to U.S. user data to Chinese personnel in China. The New York Times originally broke the story about TikTok’s letter.
China-based staff can now access TikTok U.S. user data “subject to a set of sophisticated cybersecurity controls and authorized approval methods” monitored by our U.S.-based security team,” the company said in a statement.
A few “non-sensitive” pieces of TikTok U.S. user data will be made available to China-based staff going forward, according to Chew, “to maintain worldwide interoperability so our U.S. users, creators, marketers, and merchants are offered the same rich and safe TikTok experience as global users.” Access “will be highly limited,” according to Chew, and “it will only occur according to protocols being created with the U.S. Government.” He added that access “will not include private TikTok user information.”
In Addition, Tik Tok Maintains that It Has Never Supplied Data to The Chinese Communist Party
the Chinese authorities have not requested any such information from TikTok at this time. That information has never come to our attention from the CCP. According to Chew’s letter, “We have not provided CCP with any information about U.S. users and will not if requested.”
At this point, “100% of U.S. user traffic” is being diverted to Oracle’s cloud infrastructure, which Chew confirmed, and TikTok aims to destroy all data pertaining to American users stored in the company’s Singapore data centers. Additionally, Chew wrote that the executive is a citizen of and resides in Singapore, which was mentioned in the letter.
In response to Chew’s letter, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) remarked, “TikTok’s response indicates our suspicions about the CCP’s involvement in the company were well-grounded.” “The Chinese-run corporation should have spoken transparent from the outset, but it tried to cloak its operations in secrecy,” the senator continued in a statement. American citizens should be aware that if they use TikTok, Communist China has access to their personal data.
Earlier this week, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, a Republican, increased pressure on TikTok in the aftermath of BuzzFeed News’s investigation. Twitter user Nick Carr penned a message to the CEOs of Apple and Google, pleading with them to remove TikTok from their app stores, calling it “an unacceptable national security danger.” Apps cannot be regulated by the FCC.
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