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TikTok to let Oracle view source code, algorithm, and content moderation

It's all in the name of national security as Trump-era collab continues in Project Texas

TikTok, the social video platform used by around 150 million people in the US, is set to hand access to its source code, algorithm and content moderation material to Oracle in a bid to allay data protection and national security concerns stateside.

Big Red is also about to start monitoring the gateways in and out of the secure environment it set up on servers to host data from TikTok's US users, according to a statement from the Chinese company.

Oracle's association with TikTok stems from efforts under the Trump administration to force owner ByteDance to sell the US stake to an American company. In the twilight of Trump's presidential tenure, the US government lost a legal decision in its efforts to force the video app biz to sell its US interests.

Yet concerns around TikTok have continued. Earlier this month, Montana became the first American state to ban downloads of TikTok in its jurisdiction.

As of July last year, TikTok was making an effort to minimize the amount of data from US users that gets transferred outside of America, even though some China-based employees with sufficient security clearance could access data from US TikTok users, including public videos and comments.

The company said all its US traffic was being routed to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, but acknowledged backups took place in Singapore. At the time it promised to delete US users' private data from its own servers and to "fully pivot to Oracle cloud servers located in the US."

According to media reports, TikTok's Project Texas, as the plan to quarantine US user data is known, is designed to mitigate the threat from policymakers who perceive that ByteDance could allow its data to be accessed or used by the Chinese government.

In a statement, TikTok said: "While our conversations with the federal government are ongoing, 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. This includes completing the process of deleting historical protected US user data from our own servers and granting full access to Oracle for source code review, monitoring the controlled gateways where data comes in and out of the secure environment, content assurance, and more."

The company said Project Texas had cost $1.5 billion over two years and was designed to ensure "every American on TikTok feel safe, with confidence that their data is secure and the platform is free from outside influence."

TikTok had worked closely with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), it said.

It declined to say why it had decided to work specifically with Oracle on Project Texas. ®

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