Earlier this week, an FCC commissioner in the United States called on both Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their respective apps stores. Now, TikTok parent company ByteDance has responded to the situation and confirmed that some China-based employees can access data of TikTok users in the United States.
TikTok promises changes to avoid US ban.
The commissioner called TikTok a “sophisticated surveillance tool,” saying that the app serves as a data-gathering tool for the Chinese authorities.
“It is clear that TikTok poses an unacceptable national security risk due to its extensive data harvesting being combined with Beijing’s apparently unchecked access to that sensitive data,” FCC commissioner Brendan Carr wrote in the letter addressed to Apple and Google.
In its response today, ByteDance confirmed that some employees do need “have access to TikTok U.S. user data.” It went on to clarify, however, that these employees are “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team.”
As noted by Reuters, however, ByteDance also committed to making changes that will “fully safeguard user data and U.S. national security interests.” The company said that it is in the process of finalizing “new advanced data security controls” in partnership with Oracle.
ByteDance migrated US user data to Oracle servers last month, but the company still sues data centers in the US and Singapore for backups. Once this agreement is finalized, TIkTok says it will “delete U.S. users’ protected data from our own systems and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the U.S.”
“We look forward to connecting with members of Congress to discuss the substance of our letter,” TikTok wrote in its response today.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said that TikTok’s response “confirms our fears about the CCP’s influence.”
“The Chinese-run company should have come clean from the start, but it attempted to shroud its work in secrecy. Americans need to know if they are on TikTok, Communist China has their information.”
Apple and Google have yet to respond to requests to pull TikTok from the App Store and Play Store.
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