TikTok's global chief security officer (CSO) Roland Cloutier will step down from his role and shift to a strategic advisory position. Kim Albarella, head of security risk, vendor, and client assurance, will temporarily take his place.
Cloutier's removal comes as TikTok deals with the fallout of a recent controversy that erupted after the platform's CEO admitted that its China-based employees have access to American user data.
Though the company clarified that the shared data is subject to "robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols," top United States officials and experts remain concerned about the privacy implications.
“With our recent announcement about data management changes in the US, it’s time for me to transition from my role as Global Chief Security Officer into a strategic advisory role focusing on the business impact of security and trust programs,” Cloutier wrote.
Shifting Data to US Servers
TikTok in June announced that it had started shifting US users’ data to servers controlled by the US-based cloud computing giant Oracle, subject to third-party auditing.
The personal information of American users will also be stored with Oracle, rather than on TikTok’s own servers, the CEO clarified. However, this attempt to "minimise concerns" hasn't convinced everyone.
A recent BuzzFeed report showed that China-based employees of ByteDance “repeatedly accessed nonpublic data about US TikTok users" on the basis of leaked audio from internal TikTok meetings.
"TikTok has long claimed that its US user data has been stored on servers in the US, and yet those representations provided no protection against the data being accessed from Beijing,” wrote Brendan Carr, a member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), who had previously asked Google and Apple to remove TikTok from their app stores.
Another concern is that ByteDance employees in China would still be working to develop TikTok's algorithm that makes personalised video recommendations, potentially leaving millions vulnerable to the influence of the Chinese government.
(With inputs from BuzzFeed.)