TikTok Admits Its Chinese Staff Can Access User Data in Other Countries

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Chinese-owned video app TikTok admitted that its staff in China has the ability to access the private accounts data in the United Kingdom and the European Union.

This comes after years of criticism from around the world, particularly in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States over concerns that personal information could be passed on to the Chinese regime.

The app is coming under intense scrutiny by government authorities in the West, as its parent company, ByteDance, repeatedly denies that it is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

TikTok Attempts to Explain a Privacy Loophole

The social media company released a press statement on Nov. 2, stating that its “privacy policy” was “based on a demonstrated need to do their job.”

TikTok said in its statement that the policy applies to “the European economic area, United Kingdom, and Switzerland.”

The company relies “on a global workforce to ensure that our community’s TikTok experience is consistent, enjoyable, and safe,” for better user experience, said Elaine Fox, TikTok’s head of privacy for Europe,

Fox said that even though the social media app currently stores European user data in the United States and Singapore, “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.”

“Our efforts are centered on limiting the number of employees with access to European user data, minimizing data flows outside of the region, and storing European user data locally,” she explained.

She also claimed that the app does not collect precise location data from users in the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU).

Fox said that employee access was “subject to a series of robust security controls and approval protocols, and by way of methods that are recognized under the General Data Protection Regulation.”

The new EU law will affect how companies use personal information and is slated to come into effect on May 25, 2023.

By Bryan Jung

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