TikTok has finally admitted that it improperly stored American data in China, despite suggesting otherwise.
The ByteDance-owned company is the world’s fastest growing social media app. But in a letter on Thursday, TikTok admitted that certain creator data is stored on servers in China. The news follows public scrutiny into TikTok and its data storage practices, as well as its Chinese ownership and business laws that require CCP stewardship for Chinese owned companies.
The letter defines a TikTok creator as “someone who enters a commercial relationship with TikTok” such as influencers who make paid content for the app. Contracts and related documents are held outside the US, according to a letter to two U.S. Senators.
“TikTok has not been asked for this data by the Chinese government or the CCP. TikTok has not provided such data to the Chinese government or CCP, nor would TikTok do so,” the statement from the company reads.
“We are extremely concerned that TikTok is storing Americans’ personal, private data within reach of the Chinese government,” a statement from U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Richard Blumenthal (D-NY) reads. “TikTok’s response makes it crystal clear that Americans’ data is still exposed to Beijing’s draconian and pervasive spying regimes—despite the claims of TikTok’s misleading public relations campaign.”
The United States government and several branches of the military have banned the controversial app from federal devices. Montana became the first state in the United States to ban TikTok for all of its citizens, though it’s questionable how enforceable that law will be. TikTok was also banned from British government officials’ devices earlier this year over concerns that it could be used to harvest sensitive data about important figures in government, or use the data gathered from the app to “capitalize on our vulnerabilities.”
TikTok has launched a lawsuit against the state of Montana, citing the First Amendment and a breach of Americans’ right to freedom of speech.