Is US TikTok Data secure? Leaked audio evidence of data accessed by China

Written by Mike Boutwell

September 14, 2022

Social media platforms have become a place of comfort and safety. We create content to share our interests with a larger audience, and it takes a lot to build the trust of giving your data to a media platform. However, if this confidence level were to be broken, it could cause severe damage. So was seen in a controversy developed questioning the security of data in US Tiktok, which was supposedly accessed by China as evidenced by leaked audio evidence. For years, TikTok has been examined for its data privacy concerns. However, it has always assured that data gathered about users in the United States remains in the United States rather than being accessed in China, where ByteDabce, the platform’s parent company, is resided. Moreover, according to at least 80 internal leaked TikTok meeting audios, China employees from ByteDance have repeatedly been accessing non-public data about US TikTok users. 

The recordings included 14 statements from nine different TikTok employees, which foretell that engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 to January 2022 at least. Tiktok has proved itself to violate the privacy and confidentiality concerns it promises its customers. TikTok’s executive claimed in October 2021 that TikTok has set up a “world-renowned, US-based security team” which oversees who gets access to data or not. Still, the leaked TikTok meeting recordings prove that TikTok China had not kept their promise. Instead, nine to eight statements by different employees showcase that employees in the US had to turn over to their colleagues in China to analyze how the US user data was flowing. This can convince one that TikTok has not set up advanced security systems to protect its customer data. No third party should have access to a user’s private information. 

Everything is seen in China.”

The above statement was said by a TikTok’s trust and safety department member in the 2021 September meeting. This statement indicates how even the employees at TikTok overview their security system with a lack of privacy and protection. These recordings surround small-group meetings with leaders and consultants to policy presentations, screenshots, and other significant documents evidence this. The content of said evidence shows that the data was accessed far more often than previously reported. Based on such accusations, Donald Trump has repeatedly managed to ban TikTok in the US. However, the upper power amasses, and TikTok becomes unbanned. There are a lot of dangers such misuse of power can portray on the citizens of the US. 

TikTok has multiple times allocated in blogs and public statements that it stores all data of its US users in the US, with some backups in Singapore. However, there is a loophole, as while the company does not subject to Chinese law, it does not address whether China-based employees can access the data or not.

Hence, this serves as a prime example to be cautious of what social media platform you place your trust in as they might end up being unprotective. 

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