TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the United States Congress on Thursday, stating that the company intends to delete all U.S. user data from company servers by the end of the year.
The pledge was made as part of Chew’s opening remarks, which detailed the company’s Project Texas initiative.
The plan calls for the relocation of US user data to Oracle servers in the US, where it will be overseen by American personnel.
The plan is part of TikTok’s larger strategy to prevent the popular video entertainment app from being banned by the US government due to national security concerns.
The company also hopes to persuade Congress that it has a number of safeguards in place in its app to keep younger users safe and that it is heavily used to generate income by both US-based creators and small businesses, among other things.
TikTok’s general plans for Project Texas were already known — the company wrote to Republican senators last June to assure them that it was working on an initiative to improve data security for US-based users.
The letter was written in response to an earlier Congressional outreach that followed a BuzzFeed News report that claimed some China-based employees had access to TikTok U.S. user data.
TikTok’s response detailed how it planned to relocate and secure the data. The letter did not, however, commit to a timetable for the data’s relocation.
Chew gave TikTok a deadline for the move in his testimony this morning, noting that the company expected to delete data from its own servers this year.
“Today, U.S. TikTok data is stored by default in Oracle’s service,” Chew said.
“Only vetted personnel operating in a new company called TikTok U.S. Data Security can control access to this data. Now additionally, we have plans for this company to report to an independent American board with strong security credentials. Now there’s still some work to do,” he continued.
“We have legacy U.S. data sitting in our servers in Virginia and in Singapore. We’re deleting those we expect that to be complete this year,” he said.
“When that is done, all protected U.S. data will be under the protection of U.S. law and under the control of the U.S.-led security team. This eliminates the concern that some of you have shared with me that TikTok user data can be subject to Chinese law,” Chew added.
The exec was later questioned on other aspects of its data security, including whether or not it would commit to not selling U.S. user data to anyone.
Chew was unable to provide a straightforward answer. After initially stating that TikTok would not sell data to data brokers, he stated that he would “get back to you” on the specifics of whether or not TikTok sold data to anyone after being pressed to respond more directly.