TikTok has transferred US user data to Oracle, controlled by new team, ByteDance cannot access

Leifeng.com news on June 17, according to Reuters, TikTok has completed the migration of U.S. users’ data information to Oracle Corp.’s servers, thereby addressing U.S. regulators’ concerns about the app’s data integrity.

According to the report, the news has been confirmed by the company.

It is understood that Oracle discussed acquiring a minority stake in TikTok in 2020, when ByteDance faced pressure from the United States to sell the app.

TikTok said the cloud computing giant is now storing all of TikTok’s U.S. user data on Oracle data servers in the U.S. under a new partnership.

US user data is not controlled or supervised by TikTok

As early as March this year, ByteDance’s overseas version of Douyin, TikTok, was revealed to be close to reaching an agreement with Oracle to store the information of TikTok’s US users, while ByteDance could not access the data.

ByteDance hopes to use this to address concerns about data security by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

TikTok has previously been storing its U.S. user data in a data center in Virginia, with backups in Singapore, the report said. After the deal with Oracle, Byte will delete private data of U.S. users from its own data centers and rely entirely on and store it on Oracle’s U.S. servers. But for now, the Virginia and Singapore centers are still used to back up data.

TikTok officials said that TikTok has also established a dedicated U.S. data security management team called “USDS” to act as a gatekeeper for U.S. user information and isolate it from ByteDance.

Under the leadership of TikTok’s global security executive, Andrew Bonillo, USDS currently reports to TikTok CEO Shouzi Zhou, he said. Another senior USDS executive is Will Farrell, who previously worked under TikTok’s chief security officer Roland Cloutier.

Under the deal, the U.S. data management team consists of hundreds of people, including content reviewers, engineers, and members of users and product operations.

TikTok is discussing a structure in which teams would operate autonomously, without TikTok’s control or oversight, the sources said.

The sources also added that TikTok is also exploring cooperation with other technology companies on firewalls and cybersecurity measures.

The U.S. Commerce Department is reported to be considering new rules to address the potential security risks of TikTok and other foreign apps, possibly even banning some of them.

The rules, if adopted, could force TikTok to undergo third-party audits, source code inspections and monitoring of user data logs.

TikTok and the United States, a two-year deal

TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps in the world with more than 1 billion active users worldwide and counts the US as its largest market.

The U.S. has also been increasingly scrutinizing personal data handled by app developers in recent years, especially some involving U.S. military or intelligence personnel.

In November 2019, Trump announced an investigation into the musical.ly acquisition, citing national security concerns. In December of the same year, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a “Cyber ​​Security Notice” claiming that TikTok has security risks. After that, the U.S. Navy and Army successively announced the ban on downloading TikTok.

In March 2020, TikTok pledged to store all US user data only in the US, with backups in Singapore.

According to The Information, TikTok signed a three-year agreement with Google in May 2019, pledging to purchase more than $800 million in cloud services from Google during this period.

Since then, U.S. lawmakers have expressed national security concerns about TikTok’s user data. In response, TikTok issued a statement in response, saying, “Providing a safe app experience for users is our highest priority. We have never provided user data to China.”

On August 6, 2020, the former U.S. president issued an executive order requiring ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. business to a U.S. company within 45 days, or face a U.S. ban.

To this end, Zhang Yiming, founder of ByteDance, also issued an internal letter, “For nearly a year, we have been actively cooperating with CFIUS’s investigation of our acquisition of musical.ly at the end of 2017. Although we have repeatedly emphasized that we are a private company companies, and we are willing to take more technical solutions to allay concerns, but CFIUS still determined that ByteDance must sell TikTok’s U.S. business. We do not agree with this decision, because we have always insisted on ensuring user data security, platform neutrality and Transparency. Considering the current environment, we must also face the CFIUS decision and the US President’s executive order without giving up exploring any possibilities. We tried to have a preliminary discussion with a technology company on a cooperation plan to form a plan to ensure that TikTok can continue to serve U.S. users.”

On September 14, 2020, Oracle confirmed that it had reached an agreement with TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, to become its “trusted technology provider,” but the agreement still required U.S. government approval.

But starting September 20, 2020, U.S. companies will be banned from doing business with TikTok, and the statement also prohibits U.S. companies from providing services through WeChat “for the purpose of transferring funds or processing payments within the United States.”

To this end, TikTok objected and continued to advance its lawsuit against the US executive order.

On June 9, 2021, the current president of the United States signed an executive order revoking the former president’s ban on social software TikTok and WeChat during his term in office.

But at the same time, the U.S. still directed the Commerce Secretary to investigate apps linked to foreign “adversaries” that the U.S. government believes could pose risks to the country’s data privacy and national security.

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