Blackburn, Blumenthal Probe TikTok Over Storing Sensitive Data In China

June 7, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew demanding immediate answers on reports his company allowed private data about American users to be stored and accessed in China.

This follows a May 2023 Forbes report from Alexandra Levine alleging that TikTok has stored the sensitive financial information of U.S. TikTok creators in China, including social security numbers and tax information.

TikTok Misled Congress About China Storing Sensitive Personal Data

“We are disturbed by TikTok’s pattern of misleading or inaccurate responses regarding serious matters related to users’ safety and national security, and request that TikTok correct and explain its previous, incorrect claims... These reports directly contradict statements you and other TikTok representatives have made to the public and under oath before Congress about where TikTok stores U.S. user data and the ability of employees in China to access that information. For example, Michael Beckerman— Head of Public Policy at TikTok—testified before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security in October 2021. In response to questioning from Senator Blackburn, Mr. Beckerman said that ‘U.S. user data is stored in the United States. Our backups are in Singapore,’” wrote the senators.

TikTok Has Deceived Americans And Jeopardized National Security

“TikTok has also repeatedly made misleading and inaccurate representations to the American public about the security of private information. For example, in a blogpost from June 2022, TikTok assured that “TikTok has long stored US user data in our own data centers in the US and Singapore” and “100% of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.” In a “Myths vs. Fact” document published about Project Texas, its attempt to allay concerns about spying from China, TikTok states that “employees of [ByteDance] are restricted from access to U.S. user databases, with no exceptions.” Again, these claims to not appear to be accurate,” continued the senators.

Read the full letter here.