TikTok has announced it has migrated all US user data from its own servers to ones operated by Oracle Corp. The move could ease US concerns about data on US citizens gathered by the popular video app.
The announcement comes almost two years after former US president Trump ordered TikTok parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok over fears US user data could be used by China’s communist government for nefarious purposes.
With more than 1 billion active users, TikTok is one of the world’s most popular social media apps, and the US is its biggest market.
While Biden withdrew the order to sell TikTok after Trump left office, the US Commerce Department has continued a review of foreign apps’ user data.
In March, TikTok was reportedly nearing a deal for Oracle Corp to store US users’ information.
Oracle had outlined plans to acquire a minority stake in TikTok in 2020, but that deal did not materialize.
Under the data storage deal announced June 17, Oracle will store all US user data on Oracle servers within the US. Tik Tok said it will continue to use existing servers it owns located in the US state of Virginia and Singapore as backup.
The company has also set up a dedicated US data security team known as “USDS” that will ensure US user information cannot be accessed by ByteDance, a company spokesperson said.
ByteDance is one of China’s fastest growing startups. It owns the country’s leading news aggregator, Jinri Toutiao, as well as TikTok’s Chinese counterpart Douyin.
In June 2021, Biden withdrew Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of WeChat and TikTok. But, the Commerce Department is currently drafting new rules on app data security that could lead to restrictions on non-US apps, or even ban apps deemed serious security risks.
The agency recently completed a public comment exercise seeking inputs on how to implement the Protecting Americans’ Sensitive Data from Foreign Adversaries act.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last year the administration is “very serious about protecting Americans’ data,” but criticized Trump’s approach.
“Doing some executive order that’s meaningless on TikTok is not the way to do it,” she said.
- Reuters, with editing by Neal McGrath