TikTok admits China staff can access European user data


TikTok admits China staff can access European user data as FCC commissioner urges app be banned

BY Christiaan Hetzner

November 3, 2022 at 9:59 PM GMT+8

TikTok said it would allow Chinese staff remote access to personal data of its European users just days after a senior U.S. regulator called for the social media phenomenon to be banned.

In a blog post, the subsidiary of China’s ByteDance claimed it was making progress toward better data governance in Europe, but tacitly conceded a long-planned data center in Ireland slated to go online late this year was not yet up and running. 

As a result, data from users in the European Union, the U.K., Switzerland, and Norway would continue to be stored in the U.S. and Singapore—including shared personal data regarding their approximate location—and could be accessed by its staff in 10 countries around the world, including those in China. 

“We rely on a global workforce to ensure that our community’s TikTok experience is consistent, enjoyable, and safe,“ Elaine Fox, head of privacy for the European market, said in a statement on Wednesday.

The continued lack of guardrails on data privacy has prompted the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) highest ranking Republican, Brendan Carr, to call for TikTok’s ban, claiming a lack of confidence user data won’t find “its way back into the hands of the [Communist Party of China].”

TikTok is currently in negotiations with CFIUS, an interagency committee that conducts national security reviews of foreign companies’ deals, to determine how it can remain operational in the United States.

“Commissioner Carr has no role in or direct knowledge of the confidential discussions with the U.S. government related to TikTok and is not in a position to discuss what those negotiations entail,” the TikTok spokesman told Fortune. “He appears to be expressing his personal views, independent of his authority as an FCC commissioner. We are confident that we are on a path to reaching an agreement with the U.S. government that will satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.”




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