TikTok moves US user data to Oracle servers after concerns over China accessing data

TikTok announced on Friday that it is transferring data from US customers to Oracle servers in the US. A damaging report soon after, stating that TikTok personnel in China had access to its US consumers’ data as late as January, overshadowed its migration announcement.

BuzzFeed News claims that U.S. TikTok employees repeatedly conferred with their Chinese colleagues to understand how U.S. user data flowed because they lacked “permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own,” according to a report based on recordings from 80 TikTok internal meetings obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The report quoted an alleged member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department as saying in a September 2021 meeting, “Everything is seen in China.”

The investigation also puts doubt on the company’s ties to Beijing, a long-standing claim bolstered by previous President Donald Trump, as well as the company’s public statements about the independence of its US branch.

For years, US authorities have expressed fear that TikTok may give China’s autocratic government access to the data it collects from Americans and other users. The situation became more serious in September 2020, when the Trump administration announced that Chinese-owned smartphone apps WeChat and TikTok would be removed from U.S. app marketplaces.

(In 2020, India imposed a ban on TikTok and a number of other Chinese-owned applications, claiming national security concerns.)

TikTok, as well as its parent company ByteDance, has stated publicly that it will never send over the data of its U.S. users. To comply with Trump’s directive, the company negotiated with Microsoft and Oracle to sell the US subsidiary and looked into selling holdings to US investors.