October 1, 2023


Digitally first class

Selected staff in China can access some US data • The Register


TikTok, owned by Chinese outfit ByteDance, very last thirty day period claimed it was creating an effort to reduce the sum of details from US consumers that receives transferred exterior of The usa, next experiences that business engineers in the Middle Kingdom had obtain to US buyer information.

“100 per cent of US person traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure,” TikTok said in a June 17, 2022 write-up, though acknowledging that client data still bought backed up to its knowledge heart in Singapore. The biz promised to delete US users’ non-public info from its very own servers and to “thoroughly pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the US.”

That pivot has not nevertheless been concluded. In accordance to a June 30, 2022 letter [PDF] from TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, obtained by the New York Situations on Friday, some China-primarily based workforce with adequate security clearance can still accessibility information from US TikTok people, which include general public video clips and remarks.

“Staff exterior the US, which includes China-primarily based staff, can have obtain to TikTok US consumer facts subject to a sequence of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-dependent security workforce,” the letter states.

It goes on to explain “Project Texas,” an initiative to reinforce the company’s details protection tactics in conjunction with Oracle and consultancy Booz Allen.

“The broad target for Venture Texas is to support establish trust with consumers and critical stakeholders by improving upon our techniques and controls, but it is also to make substantive progress towards compliance with a ultimate settlement with the US govt that will totally safeguard user information and US nationwide safety pursuits,” Chew’s letter described.

The letter stated TikTok’s info handling is remaining reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Financial commitment in the United States (CFIUS), “to assist make sure compliance and boost safety of US user details outlined as ‘protected.'”

Not all information will be outlined as “secured.” Personnel primarily based outside the US, including people in China, “will have access to a slender set of non-delicate TikTok US person facts, this sort of as community videos and responses” for the sake of world-wide interoperability, the letter defined.

One particular has to marvel if Beijing’s intelligence agencies ordering ByteDance to hand about Americans’ information and facts counts as world-wide interoperability or a slim established of info entry.

A TikTok spokesperson explained the company does not share correspondence with Congress but confirmed the authenticity of the letter published by the newspaper.

TikTok’s letter represents a reaction to quite a few Republican senators who penned a letter on June 27, 2022 to TikTok’s CEO demanding responses within just a few months to eleven questions about how the company handles US users’ information.

The lawmakers’ missive notes that at a Senate subcommittee hearing in October, 2021, Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s Head of General public Plan for the Americas, had indicated that TikTok is not transmitting knowledge to Beijing and that the details related with US TikTok buyers is stored in the US. The senators questioned whether or not the corporation made bogus statements in gentle of studies that contradict its promises.

In his response, Chew promises that TikTok did not, at any point, mislead Congress about enterprise knowledge and protection controls and techniques.

TikTok has been below fire given that the Trump administration two a long time back experimented with to have the application banned from the US in an energy to force its China-dependent father or mother organization to sell to a US-dependent proprietor. A year ago, President Biden revoked the Trump-era executive orders that would have banned TikTok and other applications operated by Chinese businesses. But he did so in government orders advertising the security of Americans’ information and directing the Commerce Office to glance into the challenge.

The improve of administrations has not definitely diminished considerations about knowledge privateness, data sovereignty, and supply chain protection. Nor has it diminished political grandstanding. On Thursday, Brendan Carr, a Republican FCC Commissioner, requested Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to remove the TikTok app from the iOS Application Shop and Google Play. Carr’s letter to the two CEOs cites earlier stories about TikTok as evidence that the TikTok app presently violates App Retailer and Google Play insurance policies.

“TikTok does not just see its users’ dance video clips,” explained Carr by using Twitter. “It collects research and browsing histories, keystroke styles, biometric identifiers, draft messages and metadata, additionally it has gathered the textual content, photographs, and videos that are saved on a device’s clipboard.”

TikTok, which discloses considerable info selection that just isn’t significantly different from American social media apps, proceeds to be accessible via the iOS App Retail store and Google Perform. ®


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