TikTok gave U.S. lawmakers extra particulars in a letter dated Thursday about the way it plans to maintain information about its American customers separate from ByteDance, its Chinese language mother or father firm, aiming to fight considerations that the video app poses a nationwide safety danger.
In a letter to 9 Republican senators, Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s chief govt, defined how the corporate would function the app from servers managed by Oracle, the U.S. cloud computing large. TikTok could be run from the American firm’s machines and audited by a 3rd social gathering, Mr. Chew stated. He additionally reiterated a plan to retailer American customers’ private data with Oracle, relatively than on TikTok’s servers.
“We all know we’re among the many most scrutinized platforms from a safety standpoint, and we goal to take away any doubt in regards to the safety of U.S. person information,” Mr. Chew wrote within the letter, which was obtained by The New York Occasions.
TikTok, which is extremely in style for its brief and viral meme-making movies, has been working to rebut considerations that it’s a nationwide safety danger. For years, critics of the app have nervous that the Chinese language authorities would request information belonging to Individuals immediately from ByteDance and that TikTok was topic to the affect of the Chinese language Communist Celebration.
In 2020, President Donald J. Trump cited these considerations and demanded that ByteDance promote TikTok if the app was to stay in American app shops. His administration later introduced a deal wherein ByteDance would promote at the very least a part of TikTok to Oracle, although the transaction by no means got here to fruition.
TikTok stays beneath the scrutiny of the Committee on Overseas Funding in america, a bunch of presidency businesses that vets overseas purchases of American corporations.
Final month, BuzzFeed Information reported that ByteDance staff had gained entry to the app’s information as lately as this yr and that staff have been struggling to cordon off data collected by the app.
After the report, 9 Republican senators — together with Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and John Thune of South Dakota — wrote to TikTok with questions on its practices. Final month, a member of the Federal Communications Fee additionally stated Apple and Google ought to take away TikTok from their app shops.
In Mr. Chew’s letter responding to the Republican senators, he stated ByteDance staff in China may get entry to TikTok information solely when “topic to a collection of sturdy cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based safety staff.”
He additionally reiterated the corporate’s hope that it will quickly have the ability to delete U.S. information from its servers and retailer the knowledge solely with Oracle. (Some particulars of its plans have been first reported by BuzzFeed.)
“We’ve got not spoken publicly about these plans out of respect for the confidentiality of the engagement with the U.S. authorities, however circumstances now require that we share a few of that data publicly to clear up the errors and misconceptions within the article and a few ongoing considerations associated to different features of our enterprise,” he stated.
However Mr. Chew additionally made it clear that ByteDance staff in China would nonetheless be engaged on TikTok. These staff can nonetheless develop the algorithm that feeds personalised video suggestions to TikTok’s customers, he stated, although Oracle would “be sure that coaching of the TikTok algorithm” occurs solely on its servers.
And sure data — like public movies and feedback — would stay obtainable to ByteDance staff beneath situations authorized by the U.S. authorities, he wrote, to “guarantee international interoperability so our U.S. customers, creators, manufacturers and retailers are afforded the identical wealthy and protected TikTok expertise as international customers.”