🔐The Clock is Ticking on "Project Texas"
Have no fear: Project Texas is here. So says TikTok to Americans worried about the privacy of their data on the hyper-popular social media app. The message came in the form of a letter TikTok sent to Republican senators after those senators sent a letter to the Chinese firm last month with concerns that they have “long suspected” that TikTok (and its parent, ByteDance) have been using “their access to a treasure trove of U.S. consumer data to surveil Americans.” In his response letter, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew wrote that Project Texas “will fully safeguard user data and U.S. national security interests.”
Chew stated that TikTok's goal is to move 100% of American users' data onto Oracle's cloud, it did admit that some Chinese employees still have access to this data, writes TechCrunch.
The Senators' letter was initially sparked by a June exposé from Buzzfeed about how American TikTok user data is accessed by China. This report also led the FCC Commissioner to call upon Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores.
Meta's Smear Campaign
Whether the fear over TikTok's access to US consumer data is founded or not, it echoes a smear campaign that came to light earlier this year. In March, the Washington Post reported that Meta (Facebook's parent company) had hired Targeted Victory, a Republican consulting firm, to “sway public opinion against TikTok” by publishing news stories to play into these data privacy fears.
TikTok had already begun migrating its US-based data onto Oracle's cloud, but the move coincided perfectly with the Buzzfeed article and the Senators' letter. Still, it remains unclear if the move will actually change any privacy or national safety issues.