On Tuesday, the head of the US Senate Intelligence Committee demanded an inquiry into reports that Chinese authorities may have access to information about American users of the viral video-sharing app TikTok.
The senators asked Lina Khan, chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in a letter to investigate TikTok’s data security practises.
In reaction to claims in the media, the letter stated, “We write in response to public reports that persons in the People’s Republic of China have been accessing data about US customers, in violation of multiple public representations.
TikTok has continuously refuted these allegations, claiming that despite the fact that its parent company, ByteDance, is located in China, it does not provide the Chinese government with information regarding US customers.
In response to an AFP query, a TikTok representative stated, “We’ve talked publicly about our work to limit access to user data across regions, and in our letter to senators last week we were transparent about our progress in limiting access even further through our collaboration with Oracle.”
“As we’ve said time and time again, TikTok has never given the Chinese government access to user data from US users, and we wouldn’t if requested,”
TikTok had stated in mid-June in response to prior enquiries from US authorities that all of its data on US-based users was now housed on US-based servers run by US corporation Oracle.
Last week, TikTok wrote a letter in response to inquiries regarding its data storage and access standards from nine Republican senators.
In that letter, TikTok affirmed claims made in a BuzzFeed article that staff members based in China had access to data from US users, but only as long as “robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols” were in place and were being monitored by the business’s “U.S.-based security team.”
The ByteDance programmers might work on the platform’s algorithms, according to TikTok executives, but the new protocol assures that they can only do so in Oracle’s computing environment without seeing any data.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency government review panel that evaluates risks of foreign investments on US national security, is now evaluating the well-known social networking site.
The security of the platform’s data was a worry for former president Donald Trump when he was in office, and he made an effort to persuade ByteDance to sell its business to Oracle.
Additionally, he issued executive orders that would have outright prohibited the service in the country, but they were eventually repealed by his successor, Joe Biden, and never went into effect.
However, President Biden has given his team the duty of evaluating the potential dangers brought on by foreign control of social media platforms and applications.