Following pushback from Congress, TikTok’s data is moving to Texas

Molly McIlhinney, General News Reporter

Last month, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified in front of Congress after federal lawmakers expressed concerns about the app’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party and an ensuing threat to U.S. data security. 

The hearing follows both Gov. Greg Abbott’s December directive to ban the popular social networking app on all state-issued devices and UT-Austin’s ban of TikTok from the University Wi-Fi network in January. 

After hours of deliberation, Chew denied all claims that TikTok data was being handed over to the Chinese Communist Party and cited the creation of a new plan called “Project Texas” that would ensure the protection of American data. 

Project Texas, a $1.5 billion partnership between Austin-based database software company Oracle and TikTok, plans to re-route all American data from TikTok back to Oracle’s secure cloud technology system to store and protect the data domestically. 

Chew told Congress that TikTok does not pose a data security issue, stating that the app is “American data stored on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel.”

According to Chew’s testimony, TikTok began to store U.S. user data in the country last year and deleted all U.S. user data from non-Oracle servers in March. The data is expected to be completely removed by the end of the year. 

Despite being owned by Chinese technology company ByteDance, TikTok has never been asked to turn data over to the Chinese government and is not privy to Americans’ information, according to Chew’s testimony.

However, both Republican and Democratic legislators remained skeptical and hostile toward both Project Texas and TikTok’s continued operation in the U.S., with Republican Congressman August Pfluger even challenging the name of Oracle and TikTok’s partnership.

“Please rename your project,” Pfluger told Chew during the testimony. “Texas is not the appropriate name. We stand for freedom and transparency, and we don’t want your project.”