In an interview, Beckerman called TikTok’s data collection “very minor” compared to other social apps. To reduce security concerns, the app said it plans to store all of its US data in the United States, a process Beckerman said would likely happen this year. He did not offer a specific date.
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The White House may be preparing to act soon on a broader policy regarding apps that could expose data to foreign adversaries. Earlier this year, he circulated a draft executive order that would give the government more power to intervene in cases where data is at risk of being exposed to an adversary. The Biden administration is also expected to issue guidelines soon for a committee that reviews transactions involving foreign companies, telling it to be particularly sensitive to cases that could expose Americans’ data to other governments. It is also considering ways to examine entire categories of potentially risky operations, rather than addressing them on an individual basis.
“The Biden administration is focused on challenging certain countries, including China, who seek to leverage Americans’ digital technologies and data in ways that pose unacceptable national security risks while advancing control and accountability. authoritarian interests,” said Saloni Sharma, spokesman for the National Security Council. “The administration is also considering other potential actions to address this challenge.”
TikTok has faced security issues for years, particularly in 2020 when Mr. Trump issued an executive order to block it from Apple and Google app stores unless ByteDance sold the app to an American company. He then announced a deal to sell part of the app to Oracle, the US cloud computing giant, but that never materialized. Federal courts eventually ruled that Mr. Trump’s order blocking TikTok was illegal, along with another blocking the Chinese app WeChat, and last summer Mr. Biden overturned both.
But the government continued to try to reduce the risks associated with TikTok. The enforcement and U.S. foreign investment committee, which reviews international involvement in the deals, quietly brokered a resolution to the government’s concerns, according to people following the talks. TikTok said its intention was to store all of its US user data on Oracle’s servers in the United States, as opposed to TikTok’s servers in Singapore and Virginia.
While a larger team is working on how to cordon off US user data, only about 10 TikTok employees have seen the company’s draft agreement with the government, TikTok said, reflecting the narrow nature of the negotiations.