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In response to a question from lawmakers, TikTok refuted recent reports about its data practices and shared some details about how it restricts Chinese access to user data in the US.
after a BuzzFeed Reporting that Chinese ByteDance engineers had extensive access to U.S. user data for a period of time, fourteen Republican lawmakers and an FCC Republican commissioner wrote several demanding TikTok responses about its privacy and security.
Amid calls for a ban, TikTok officially responded Thursday in a June 30 letter. In the letter obtained by The New York Timesthe company pushed back on the BuzzFeed report, saying his claims were “false” and “not supported by facts”. It also provided details on how it protects user data in the US
“We are proud to serve a global community of more than a billion people who use TikTok to express themselves creatively and be entertained,” the company wrote. “We know we are one of the most researched platforms from a security perspective, and we strive to remove any doubt about the security of US user data.”
For example, TikTok acknowledged that China-based employees may have access to US user data, but only after undergoing a “set of robust cybersecurity checks and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team.”
The company also says it has long stored US user data on servers in both the US and Singapore. It added that it has not been asked for US user data by Chinese government officials, and stated that it would not comply with orders to do so.
In addition, TikTok shared details about an in-house venture called “Project Texas” that is trying to “help build trust with users and key stakeholders.” The project aims to evaluate and review TikTok’s internal policies and operational controls.
This isn’t the first time the US government has taken a close look at TikTok. In 2020, the Trump administration tried to get ByteDance to sell TikTok to a US-based company under threat of a total ban in the country.
Since then, however, plans to sell TikTok to US companies seem to have failed under President Joe Biden.