TikTok confirms Chinese staff can access European user data

TikTok’s privacy policy update includes an explicit statement that China-based company employees can access European user data.

Short video-sharing platform TikTok, owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance, updated its privacy policy for European users, stating who can access user data stored on the company’s servers. TikTok said European user data is stored in the US and Singapore.

“Based on a demonstrated need to do their job […], we allow certain employees within our corporate group located in Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and the United States remote access to TikTok European user data,” the company said.

According to TikTok, access to user data is guarded by “a series of robust security controls and approval protocols” as well as other methods that are recognized under the GDPR, the European Union’s privacy and security law.

TikTok’s policy updates apply to the members of the European Economic Area (EEA), the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, collectively recognized as “Europe” by the Chinese platform.

TikTok has over 1 billion users worldwide, with over 225 million in Europe and 80 million in the US. The platform’s rising popularity sparked security concerns over the platform’s data use practices.

Lawmakers and think-tankers fear China could use the social network to spy on the US population and the military. Earlier reports show that the company might have transferred data of American users to China-based servers.

TikTok has taken the world by storm, quickly amassing over a billion users all over the world. Research shows that one in 10 Americans now regularly use TikTok as a source of news. The number has tripled in two years – just as disinformation on the platform picked up.

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