The social media giant will reportedly grant its American partner full access to source code, algorithms, and moderation data
Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok will "soon" allow its US partner Oracle Corp. complete access to its source code, algorithms and content moderation data, the company pledged in a statement seen by Bloomberg on Monday following a report that it was lagging behind on its promises to silo off American users' data in the US.
Oracle will soon begin monitoring access to the "secure environment" set up on its servers to host TikTok's US data as well, the statement said. The projected moves are part of the social media behemoth's strategy to compartmentalize its US operations under US control in order to defuse accusations of Chinese spying on its millions of American users, a plan known as Project Texas.
"Many of the major components of Project Texas are already operational, and we will continue bringing more parts of the initiative online in the coming weeks and months," TikTok promised, insisting "our teams have been working together on all TikTok software that Oracle will ultimately inspect and continually monitor, while ensuring US users have an uninterrupted experience." Both companies are also in regular communication with the US government, it added.
Oracle has been inspecting some parts of the platform's source code since January in a so-called 'dedicated transparency center', a special room in TikTok's Transparency and Accountability Center in Los Angeles. However, Bloomberg last week reported the US tech giant had not yet obtained the "unprecedented access to the related algorithms and data models" promised by CEO Shou Zi Chew before Congress in March.
Citing an inside source who claimed Project Texas was "largely in limbo," the report claimed that aside from preliminary code reviews, there was no "ongoing or large-scale monitoring" of TikTok's operations.
As initially proposed by TikTok management, Project Texas aims to house all of TikTok's US user data on Oracle servers and share its inner workings with the US software giant, allowing Oracle to review its source code and audit updates to its app.
The statement from TikTok came the same day as the company sued the state of Montana following Governor Greg Gianforte's passage of a law prohibiting it from operating "within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana," which would theoretically force mobile app stores to bar customers from downloading the app in the state.
TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter denounced "Montana's unconstitutional TikTok ban," accusing the state government of violating the First Amendment and arguing only the federal government has the authority to enact such a ban on national security grounds. The suit is the second filed against the state, after a group of TikTok creators sued last week on First Amendment grounds.