Chinese-owned social media site TikTok told US senators it was working on a final agreement with the Biden Administration that would “fully safeguard user data and US national security interests,” according to a letter seen Friday by Reuters.
TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew told senators in a letter dated Thursday that the short video app was working with Oracle 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.
TikTok’s letter acknowledged that China-based employees “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.”
A TikTok spokesperson confirmed the company sent a response to the senators’ letter. “We look forward to connecting with Members of congress to discuss the substance of our letter,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn said TikTok “should have come clean from the start but instead tried to shroud their work in secrecy. Americans need to know that if they are on TikTok, Communist China has their information. TikTok needs to come back and testify before Congress.”
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’s communist government.
“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 1 billion active users globally, and counts the United States as its largest market.
© Thomson Reuters 2022