TikTok gave U.S. lawmakers extra particulars in a letter dated Thursday about the way it plans to maintain knowledge about its American customers separate from ByteDance, its Chinese language guardian 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 big. TikTok can be run from the American firm’s machines and audited by a 3rd get together, Mr. Chew mentioned. He additionally reiterated a plan to retailer American customers’ private info with Oracle, quite than on TikTok’s servers.
“We all know we’re among the many most scrutinized platforms from a safety standpoint, and we intention to take away any doubt concerning the safety of U.S. consumer knowledge,” Mr. Chew wrote within the letter, which was obtained by The New York Instances.
TikTok, which is very standard for its quick 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 frightened that the Chinese language authorities would request knowledge belonging to People 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 during which 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 gaggle of presidency companies that vets international purchases of American firms.
Final month, BuzzFeed Information reported that ByteDance staff had gained entry to the app’s knowledge as not too long ago as this 12 months and that staff had been struggling to cordon off info 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 mentioned Apple and Google ought to take away TikTok from their app shops.
In Mr. Chew’s letter responding to the Republican senators, he mentioned ByteDance staff in China might get entry to TikTok knowledge solely when “topic to a collection of strong cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based safety crew.”
He additionally reiterated the corporate’s hope that it might quickly be capable to delete U.S. knowledge from its servers and retailer the data solely with Oracle. (Some particulars of its plans had been first reported by BuzzFeed.)
“Now we have 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 info publicly to clear up the errors and misconceptions within the article and a few ongoing considerations associated to different features of our enterprise,” he mentioned.
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 customized video suggestions to TikTok’s customers, he mentioned, although Oracle would “make sure that coaching of the TikTok algorithm” occurs solely on its servers.
And sure info — like public movies and feedback — would stay out there to ByteDance staff beneath circumstances authorised 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.”