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TikTok Appoints Cybersecurity Firms To Assess Its US Data Security

Despite facing a ban in the U.S. due to (among other things) data security concerns, TikTok is pushing ahead with updates to its U.S. user security measures, this time via new partnerships with cybersecurity firms HaystackID and OnDefend to monitor its safety and data protection measures.

TikTok says that these new contractors will serve as “Independent Security Inspectors“ for TikTok U.S. Data Security Inc. (USDS), which is a group that it formulated as part of “Project Texas,” its broader, billion-dollar initiative designed to appease meet the requirements of U.S. regulators.

As explained by TikTok:

USDS controls access to protected U.S. user data, content recommendation, and moderation systems in the secure Oracle Cloud. This structure brings heightened focus and governance to TikTok’s operations in the U.S. including data protection policies and content assurance protocols to keep U.S. users and their data safe and ensure users have an authentic experience on TikTok. Expanding on this established focus, HaystackID and OnDefend, with additional support from Mandiant Consulting, will serve as the ISIs for USDS. This collaboration is designed to ensure the security and integrity of the TikTok app, its source code, user information, and the U.S. platform as a whole, highlighting TikTok USDS’s commitment to meeting stringent cybersecurity standards.”

The project, TikTok says, aims to identify potential security risks to U.S. users through technical security testing and validation of the TikTok U.S. platform.

Which, presumably, would help to improve the app’s appeal to U.S. regulators and senators, though really, it seems a little too late, now that the U.S. Senate has already passed a bill that will force TikTok into U.S. ownership, or see it banned in America if it refused to do so.

No other U.S.-owned platform is required to go to these lengths to ensure data security, and it’s only because of TikTok’s Chinese ownership, and potential connection to the C.C.P., that it’s having to undertake these extra measures to reassure U.S. officials.

But they’re already not convinced, the fate of the app has been decided in that respect. But maybe, if TikTok can overturn the bill, or maybe if, say, Donald Trump is re-elected as President, the sell-off push could still be halted before it goes ahead.

And if that happens, then this could be a more important consideration. But right now, it seems like a bit of an afterthought, an element of a project that’s already failed to win over the decision-makers in Washington.

Still, it’s a better outcome for U.S., users, with independent verification of TikTok’s data security processes. Whether that’s relevant for 7 months, or much longer, however, remains to be seen.  

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