The idea of the platform is to route all the data of US users through a company located in the country.
TikTok is experiencing what is perhaps the tensest week in its history. The CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, had to appear before the United States Congress to respond to the allegations of US politicians regarding security issues. Questions that, in addition to exerting strong pressure on the CEO of TikTok, turned out to be bizarre and the object of mockery. However, that has served to make TikTok move: it promises to move the data of US users away from China.
In the tense face-to-face between US lawmakers and the CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew not only completely denied the CEO’s allegations about alleged connections between TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, but also vowed to keep user data out of China. more than 150 million users that the country currently has.
He has ensured that TikTok “will not be manipulated by any government” and for this, he has announced the so-called ‘Texas Project’. A plan that will cost 1.5 billion and that will seek to pass all the data of the United States users to Oracle, to maintain the access of the US data by a North American entity and managed by American employees.
TikTok is in danger
As described by Shou Zi Chew, the Texas Project will make access to the data of the 150 million users in the United States managed by an entity called TikTok US Data Security, which will be completely independent of ByteDance. In addition, it will be monitored by external observers, who verify that, indeed, a good treatment of this data is being done.
It establishes a “firewall” of US data to keep it, as the CEO of TikTok explained, on US soil. by an American business, under the direction of Americans. In reality, data for new TikTok users in the US has kept their starting in October, and the company earlier this month began deleting historical data for past users from servers outside of Oracle.
The Texas Project has been in development since at least 2020 when Trump attempted through executive orders to ban TikTok entirely. Two executive orders that, as we already know, were denied. Since then, this project has been the spearhead of the company’s efforts to try to avoid the ban on TikTok, which even the Joe Biden administration itself would have signed up for.
The general idea of the project is that all US user data goes through US servers, in a US entity completely separate from ByteDance, managed by US users, and stays within the country, without any connection to Beijing.
Put out the fire
Zi Chew charged in harsh statements against the prohibition initiative that US lawmakers are trying to carry out. He assured that imposing a veto on TikTok would be an affront against the economy and freedom of expression. “There are close to 5 million US businesses, mostly small, that use it to find customers and drive growth.” In addition, she recalled the already famous figure of 150 million users throughout the United States.
But it went further. In addition to recalling that he is from and resides in Singapore (and that TikTok is run by an executive team in the US and Singapore), he stressed that ByteDance is not “owned or controlled by the Chinese government.” While the legislators openly claimed that ByteDance was a company controlled by the Communist Party of China, the latter claimed that ByteDance was a private company.
In the words of Chew: “I have no proof that the Chinese Executive has access to the data. They have never asked us for it.” When asked if ByteDance had spied on Americans, his answer was somewhat more ambiguous. “I don’t think ‘spying’ is the best way to describe it.” Joining the lawmakers is Joe Biden, who has threatened ByteDance with a ban on the social network if it doesn’t sell its shares in the app.
But in parallel, numerous political spheres in the United States (including the administrative direction of Congress) have vetoed the download and use of TikTok from government mobile phones. In January and March, bills were presented that sought to ban the application on all government devices in the country.
Finally, it should be noted that the Energy and Commerce committee of the House of Representatives that Chew faced has been the object of mockery and ridicule in recent hours. And it is that due to the bizarre questions from legislators, many Internet users have revealed the ambiguity of their arguments to accuse TikTok of having connections with Beijing, in addition to the simplicity of the questions asked to the CEO of TikTok.