Responding to the Ultimate Data-Privacy Question

As smart as they are known to be, human beings also retain a tendency to make mistakes time and time again. In fact, this tendency has showed up on the surface quite a few times throughout our history, with their each appearance forcing us to look for some semblance of a defensive cover. To the world’s credit, it will find exactly the stated cover once we bring dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority around each and every sector would right away compensate for a ton of our mistakes. However, the stated protection will dissipate into thin air soon, and it will all happen because of technology. Technology, no matter how ingenious it looked from the outside, did make us significantly vulnerable over time. This dynamic, in particular, gave certain people an unprecedented chance to exploit other people’s shortcomings. The regulators, on their part, were quickly overwhelmed by such a volatile shift in power, therefore sending us back to square one. Nevertheless, a comeback seems to be on the cards or at least that’s what we can gauge from a new development in the back-and-forth between TikTok and US authorities.

Amidst all the scrutiny on how it handles user data, TikTok has formally laid out a plan, which expectantly revolves around improving data protection for all US users. The response comes after a Buzzfeed News report prompted some Republican senators to question the company’s stance on data protection. Talk about the sensational Buzzfeed report, it claimed that China-based engineers at TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, were able to access non-public data of US users between September 2021 and January 2022. Besides sending questions, the claims even got Brendan Carr, the Federal Communication Commission’s senior Republican commissioner, to ask Google and Apple to remove TikTok’s from their respective stores. Now, in a letter sent to nine Republican senators, TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew has plainly refuted all Buzzfeed claims, except he did admit that ByteDance workers outside the US can access American user data “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team. In addition, TikTok has an internal data classification system and approval process in place that assigns levels of access based on the data’s classification and requires approvals for access to US user data.”

TikTok has long been slated for its murky data policy, a runner that will eventually encourage the company to partner up with Oracle. The social media giant will now bank upon this partnership to replenish its image moving forward.

“[We] are working with Oracle on new, advanced data security controls that we hope to finalize in the near future,” Chew wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “That work puts us closer to the day when we will be able to pivot toward a novel and industry-leading system for protecting the data of our users in the United States.”

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