TikTok staff in China have access to user data

2 min
Tags: China TikTok privacymatters Privacy policy Europe platform user data access data

Privacy policy update confirms data of continent’s users available to range of TikTok bases including in Brazil, Israel and US.

TikTok is spelling out to its European users that their data can be accessed by employees outside the continent, including in China, amid political and regulatory concerns about Chinese access to user information on the platform.

The Chinese-owned social video app is updating its privacy policy to confirm that staff in countries, including China, are allowed to access user data to ensure their experience of the platform is “consistent, enjoyable and safe”.

The other countries where European user data could be accessed by TikTok staff include Brazil, Canada and Israel as well as the US and Singapore, where European user data is stored currently.

TikTok’s head of privacy in Europe, Elaine Fox, said: “Based on a demonstrated need to do their job, subject to a series of robust security controls and approval protocols, and by way of methods that are recognised under the GDPR [the EU’s general data protection regulation], 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.”

Data could be used to conduct checks on aspects of the platform, including the performance of its algorithms, which recommend content to users, and detect vexatious automated accounts. TikTok has previously acknowledged that some user data is accessed by employees of the company’s parent, ByteDance, in China.

In a letter to Republican senators disclosed in July, TikTok’s chief executive, Shou Zi Chew, said a “narrow set of non-sensitive” US user data could be viewed by foreign employees if approved by a US-based TikTok security team. He added that none of the data were shared with Chinese government officials.

The privacy policy update, which applies to the UK, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, and which goes live on 2 December, takes place against a backdrop of political and regulatory pressure over use of data generated by the app, which has more than a billion users worldwide.

Whole article: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/nov/02/tiktok-tells-european-users-its-staff-in-china-get-access-to-their-data