In an interview, Mr. Beckerman described TikTok’s data collection as “very insignificant” compared to other social apps. To mitigate security concerns, the app said it plans to store its American data in the United States, a process Mr. Beckerman said is expected to happen this year. He did not offer a specific date.
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The White House may be preparing to soon act on a broader policy around apps that can expose data to foreign adversaries. Earlier this year, he released a draft executive order that would give the government more power to intervene in cases where data is at risk of being revealed to an adversary. The Biden administration will also soon issue guidance to the committee that oversees transactions involving foreign companies, telling it to be especially sensitive to cases that could expose Americans’ data to other governments. It also discusses ways to review an entire class of potentially risky deals, rather than on an individual basis.
“The Biden administration is focused on challenging certain countries, including China, that seek to use digital technologies and Americans’ data in ways that pose unacceptable national security risks while advancing authoritarian control and interests,” said Saloni Sharma, a spokeswoman for National. Security Council. “The administration is also considering additional potential actions to address this challenge.”
TikTok has faced security questions for years, most notably in 2020 when Mr Trump issued an executive order to block it from Apple and Google’s app stores unless ByteDance sold the app to the US firm. It later announced a deal to sell part of the app to Oracle, the US cloud computing giant, but it never materialized. Federal courts eventually ruled that Mr. Trump’s order to block TikTok was illegal, as was his block on the Chinese-owned app WeChat, and Mr. Biden reversed both last summer.
But the government continues to downplay the risks associated with TikTok. App and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which scrutinizes international involvement in the deals, are quietly negotiating to resolve the government’s concerns, according to a tracker of the discussions. TikTok said its plan is to store all 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 to block US user data, only about 10 TikTok employees have seen a draft of the agreement between the company and the government, TikTok said, reflecting the tight nature of the negotiations.