TikTok’s global chief security officer (CSO) Roland Cloutier is stepping down as the company switches to using Oracle’s US-based servers to store Americans’ data (via The Wall Street Journal). The company shared an internal memo about the shift in a newsroom message, stating that Cloutier will take on an advisory role, with TikTok’s head of security risk, supplier and customer insurance, Kim Albarella, taking over on a temporary basis.
“With our recent announcement of changes in data governance in the US, it is time for me to move from my role as Global Chief Security Officer to a strategic advisory role focused on the business impact of security and trust programs, where I working directly with Shou, Dingkun and other senior leaders,” Cloutier wrote in the memo. Cloutier, who has worked at TikTok since 2020, will officially resign from his position on September 2.
In June, TikTok announced it had begun routing data from US users to Oracle servers in an effort to quell fears that China — where TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is based — has unfettered access to this information. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew and ByteDance vice president of technology Dingkun Hong say the change comes as a way to “minimize concerns about user data security in the US” but also “expand the scope of the Global Chief Security Officer ( CSO) changes) role.”
A TikTok spokeswoman told the WSJ that Cloutier was not involved in the management of TikTok’s new division that deals with the processing of US user data. She also explained that this organizational shift had been going on for months before US politicians turned up the heat on TikTok.
TikTok has been under scrutiny for years for its ties to China-based ByteDance, with some US officials accusing the app of transferring Americans’ data to the Chinese government. Last month, BuzzFeed News released a report claiming that TikTok employees in China had “repeatedly” access to US users’ data from at least September 2021 to January 2022.
In response to the report, a group of Republican senators wrote a letter to TikTok questioning the validity of the company’s data privacy testimony at a hearing held last October. TikTok responded to these concerns earlier this month, reiterating its plans to partner with Oracle to “completely protect user data.”