TikTok’s chief security officer stated in a new court document that the U.S. Department of Commerce is wrong about how the app stores and protects user data. Roland Cloutier (TikTok’s CSO) said in a new court document before the upcoming hearing in the U.S. District of Columbia court that the U.S. Department of Commerce has made some incorrect assertions about the company’s data security policies and practices.
Cloutier said that a memo issued by the Ministry of Commerce in September outlines specific concerns about the app. It pointed out that TikTok is not separate from the parent company’s Bytedance system. They share “functionality including storage, internal management, and algorithms (partially)”.
However, on the software end, TikTok is “entirely separate” from the Douyin. This means that they both have a separate maintenance schedule of their source codes.
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Cloutier stated that the government also incorrectly described how TikTok stores American user data. The business memorandum claims that TikTok lease servers from Alibaba Cloud in Singapore and China Unicom Americas (CUA) in the United States, which constituted a “significant risk.”
TikTok is trying hard to avoid the U.S. ban
TikTok’s CSO also said that CUA provides TikTok with data center space – buildings and electricity, but not servers. According to Cloutier, ByteDance owns and operates all servers in CUA facilities.
Cloutier added that when TikTok does lease server space from another company, it does not mean that the company can access TikTok’s proprietary information. He said that user data is encrypted in storage and fragmented, which means it is broken into pieces on several servers.
In addition, Cloutier claims that the outdated source code with a Chinese IP address has been eliminated from the legacy version of the TikTok application. He said that a bug that accessed the contents of the TikTok user’s clipboard has also been deleted, as well as the anti-spam program that accessed the clipboard data. The U.S. Department of Justice’s hearing on the appeal of the injunction will hold on November 4.
TikTok has been at the hub of controversies for some time now. The company is making some significant adjustments in order to avoid the U.S. ban. It has a deal with Oracle and Walmart to this effect. It appears that the ban on TikTok will be put on hold for now. The company is also meeting many of the U.S. government requirements.