TikTok’s two-year effort to appease US lawmakers and defend its commitment to protecting the privacy of US-based TikTokers has culminated in an effort called Project Texas. This $1.5 billion initiative is a collaboration among TikTok, the US government, and Austin, Texas-based Oracle.
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Project Texas aims to restructure TikTok’s data storage methods, consolidate American TikTok user data, and store that data on servers located in the US. The project’s data operations would be overseen by the TikTok US Data Security Committee, a committee approved by the federal government.
With all US TikTok user data stored in the US and monitored by a government-approved committee, TikTok CEO Shou Chew hopes US officials’ concerns about TikTok’s safety will be assuaged.
Once Project Texas is in place, Oracle will be responsible for reviewing TikTok’s source code and will control TikTok’s mobile app marketplace updates. TikTok chose Oracle as a partner because the software giant supplies many government agencies, namely the US Department of Defense, with cloud services.
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When Chew testified before Congress in March, he assured legislators that his company was working hard and fast to make Project Texas a reality. He also assured them that Project Texas would address their fears that the Chinese government could access the TikTok data of American users.
Since then, the project stalled, as Bloomberg reported that Oracle could only review TikTok’s source code on a large scale once the US government approves the company’s arrangement with TikTok.
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But this week, TikTok’s CEO announced that his company and Oracle are making progress. The announcement came a week after Montana’s governor, Greg Gianforte, signed a bill into law that bans TikTok statewide.
TikTok said that Oracle is receiving access to a “secure environment” to set up its servers and begin receiving TikTok’s US user data. In response to the operation’s brief slowdown, TikTok noted: “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.”
It’s unclear if Project Texas’s success will change the course of TikTok’s future in the US.