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TikTok US traffic defaults to Oracle Cloud, Beijing can (allegedly) still have a look

Alibaba hinted the gig was worth millions each year

The US arm of Chinese social video app TikTok has revealed that it has changed the default location used to store users' creations to Oracle Cloud's stateside operations – a day after being accused of allowing its Chinese parent company to access American users' personal data.

"Today, 100 percent of US user traffic is being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure," the company stated in a post dated June 18.

"For more than a year, we've been working with Oracle on several measures as part of our commercial relationship to better safeguard our app, systems, and the security of US user data," the post continues. "We still use our US and Singapore datacenters for backup, but as we continue our work we expect to delete US users' private data from our own datacenters and fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the US."

We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint.

No timeframe has been offered for the move to Oracle to be complete. Indeed it's not apparent that it's entirely possible – the post also states that TikTok continues to operate its own datacenters in the US and Singapore "to guard against catastrophic scenarios where user data could be lost." The Singapore facility serves as the backup data storage location for US users.

It is clear that Oracle Cloud is the future of TikTok's US operations.

Which is very good news for Oracle and probably not so good for Alibaba, which in 2021 admitted it had lost "a top cloud customer in the internet industry, which decided to terminate the relationship with respect to their international business due to non-product related requirements."

That quote above is widely held to be a reference to former US president Donald Trump's threat to ban TikTok from the US unless it found itself a US-based owner. Oracle expressed an interest in buying TikTok's US operations. Trump didn’t press the matter in the chaotic final months of his presidency, during which TikTok sought injunctions against its ban and started working to separate its US and Chinese operations to satisfy American authorities that stateside users' data could not be accessed in China.

That effort is thought to be why that "top cloud customer" binned Alibaba. The Chinese giant tried to calm investors by pointing out that its top ten cloud customers together accounted for under eight percent of its cloudy revenue, which then ran at $9.2 billion a year – meaning around $736 million for FY 20/21.

Oracle therefore looks to have scored itself a few bonus tens of millions a year in revenue.

TikTok's post, penned by US security public policy chap Albert Calamug, states that the company has more to do on the privacy and security fronts.

"We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of US user data," he wrote.

Last Friday, that scrutiny included a BuzzFeed report claiming access to recordings of TikTok meetings in which US-based staff admitted that user data is regularly viewed in China. Calamug's post appeared a day after that allegation. ®

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