TikTok proudly announced a “significant milestone” on Friday: the fact that 100% of its traffic from American users is now being routed through US firm Oracle’s cloud infrastructure. It’s planning to delete those users’ private data from its own data centres in the US and Singapore in the future too.
Any particular reason for this announcement? Yes indeed. Shortly after TikTok’s blog post, BuzzFeed News published an investigation based on leaked audio from more than 80 internal meetings at TikTok. Its claim: “China-based employees of ByteDance have repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about US TikTok users… engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least.”
This has been a hot-potato issue for TikTok in the US for some time now. Indeed, it was one of the reasons US president Donald Trump tried to force ByteDance to sell TikTok to Oracle in 2020. Trump may be gone for now, but tensions in the US around Chinese technology companies’ access to American users’ data are still simmering, and the BuzzFeed story may well spark some more hard questions for TikTok from politicians – and not just tubthumpers on the right wing of the Republican party.
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