Following the Trump Administration’s failed attempt to force TikTok into US ownership in 2020, the platform is now on the verge of re-aligning its internal storage to ensure that data from US citizens is not accessible to China-based groups.
According to Reuters, TikTok is close to a deal with Oracle to store its US user data, which would separate the platform’s US and Chinese databases, effectively siloing US user data from the rest of the world.
This would help to alleviate ongoing concerns about TikTok’s Chinese roots, as parent company ByteDance is still bound by China’s stringent cybersecurity laws, which require it to share user information with the CCP upon request.
TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government were at the heart of the Trump Administration’s concerns about the app, prompting the US government to threaten to shut down TikTok entirely in the US unless it could be sold into US ownership. Various suitors then moved in to acquire the company’s US arm, with Oracle eventually coming close to buying the app outright before new US President Joe Biden abandoned the push in June last year.
Nonetheless, there are concerns that TikTok may share US user information with Chinese authorities. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has fueled those fears, with China supporting Russia’s action, pitting the world’s military superpowers against each other and raising concerns that China may view the US as a direct adversary.
As a result, while the primary push to free TikTok from Chinese control has waned, there is still an underlying movement to address the issue. TikTok, which now has over a billion users and has seen tremendous success in the United States, will do everything possible to secure its business opportunities in this regard, and if a deal with Oracle provides more assurance and reduces regulatory scrutiny, it will pursue it.
The agreement is not yet official, but it would be another significant step forward in TikTok’s ongoing expansion plans.