As the FCC renews calls for a TikTok ban, European user data heads to China

By 11/03/2022
As the FCC renews calls for a TikTok ban, European user data heads to China

TikTok continues to address security concerns. In Europe, an official for the company admitted that “certain employees within our corporate group” have access to the data of users across the continent. Meanwhile, here in the States, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has restated his preference for a TikTok ban.

The clarification about TikTok user data came from Elaine Fox, who is the app’s Head of Privacy in Europe. “Based on a demonstrated need to do their job, subject to a series of robust security controls and approval protocols, and by way of methods that are recognized under the GDPR [general data protection regulation], we allow certain employees within our corporate group located in Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States, remote access to TikTok European user data,” Fox said.

Fox issued the clarification after TikTok updated its privacy policy in the European Economic Area, Switzerland, and the U.K. One purpose of the oversight is algorithmic: TikTok wants to ensure that its recommendations stay up to snuff.


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Though TikTok has valid reasons to share user data, the practice remains controversial. A recent report claimed that 300 employees at TikTok and parent company ByteDance previously worked for state-run media organizations in China.

Those ties make TikTok extra contentious in the United States. President Trump attempted to ban the app in 2020, but the executive order didn’t stick. Two years later, the current U.S. President has renewed talks that would allow TikTok to continue operating in the U.S. The Biden-era proposal, created in tandem with the Committee on Foreign Involvement in the U.S. (CFIUS), would install an American corporation (such as Oracle) as the shepherd of the sensitive user data.

Though those negotiations are advancing, the FCC Commissioner is not convinced that the U.S. should play nice. “Perhaps the deal CFIUS ends up cutting is an amazing, airtight deal,” Carr told CNN, “but at this point I have a very, very difficult time looking at TikTok’s conduct thinking we’re going to cut a technical construct that they’re not going to find a way around.”

This is not the first time Carr has called for TikTok’s removal from American app stores. He issued a similar statement in June after a BuzzFeed report claimed that Chinese officials had access to U.S. user data. TikTok has repeatedly denied BuzzFeed‘s allegations.

Tthe short-form video platform also had a strong response to Carr’s latest broadside. “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,” a TikTok rep told CNN. “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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