TikTok admits to being “among the most scrutinized platforms from a security perspective” in a recent blog post. In this same Publishthe short video platform assures the public, especially its US users, of their commitment to data security and user experience, saying that 100% of US traffic and data is now sent to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure , based in the United States.
Audio recordings reveal TikTok data on US-based users accessible from China, kick off pivot to Oracle servers
This statement came shortly ahead of alarming reports that US private user data was repeatedly accessed from China, where ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is based. Said report was based on leaked audio recordings of more than 80 TikTok meetings, which revealed Chinese access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022 and that US employees do not have their means of accessing US user data and should consult their counterparts in China for this.
Despite this, TikTok USA has already sought to dispel any doubts about its independence from the app’s Chinese unit by announcing its recent changes to operations. In June 2022, they said that all of its US user data is now stored on Oracle cloud servers located in Texas, USA. Their previously used data centers in the United States and Singapore would still be used as a backup. However, future plans include removing private data from these data centers to “fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the United States.” Even with this, it is still argued that server location does not entirely solve data access issues.
An internally invented plan “Project Texas”, as revealed in leaked audio recordings, is TikTok’s attempt to completely shut down access to data from outside the country and is considered the primary solution to protect data from users. US private users. Public information such as profiles and posts will be. However not be covered by this initiative. Ultimately, what data will be considered protected is still under legal consideration.
TikTok also announced the creation of a new US-based and US-led department, focusing solely on handling US user data. These initiated changes should prioritize security while retaining the experience and culture of the global TikTok community. Transfer of data out of the country should be kept to a minimum and additional protections for employees should be put in place.
Data protection efforts remain unclear
Even when all security measures are removed, it is certain that access to public data such as public posts, usernames, biographies and even comments will remain available worldwide and will not be stored on the Oracle server. Instead, these will remain in the data center to which ByteDance retains access. Along with this public information, there is valuable information that many experts and politicians believe is also worth protecting.
TikTok affirms constant coordination with Oracle in its commitment to the safety of its users. However, peace of mind is slim because the app and its core tools were built in China. Regardless of TikTok’s new operations, the public will continue to watch their own privacy for now.
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