TikTok seeks to reassure US Congress on data security

Move comes amid concerns that user information is accessible in China

TikTok has said Oracle will store all data from its US users. AFP
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Chinese-owned social media site TikTok told US senators it was working on a final agreement with President Joe Biden's administration that would “fully safeguard user data and US national security interests”, a letter seen by Reuters on Friday said.

TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew told senators in a letter dated Thursday the short video app was working with Oracle Corp on “new advanced data security controls that we hope to finalise in the near future”.

Last month, TikTok said it had completed migrating information on its US users to servers at Oracle but it was still using US and Singapore data centres for backup.

The letter acknowledged that employees in China “can have access to TikTok US user data, subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorisation approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team”.

TikTok said as it continues to work on data issues, it expects “to delete US users' protected data from our own systems and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the US”.

“We look forward to connecting with members of Congress to discuss the substance of our letter,” a TikTok representative said in a statement to Reuters.

Republican Marsha Blackburn said TikTok “should have come clean from the start but instead tried to shroud their work in secrecy”.

She added that Americans needed to know that, if they are on TikTok, China has their information.

“TikTok needs to come back and testify before Congress,” she said.

The letter comes nearly two years after a US national security panel ordered parent company ByteDance to divest TikTok because of fears that US user data could be passed on to China.

“We know we are among the most scrutinised platforms from a security standpoint and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data,” the letter said.

TikTok is one of the world's most popular social media apps, with more than one billion active users globally and counts the US as its largest market.

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Updated: July 01, 2022, 6:03 PM