TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew asserted Tuesday that Oracle has already begun a review of its source code — despite reports suggesting the unprecedented partnership was “in limbo” as lawmakers push for an outright ban of the Chinese-owned app.
Chew touted progress on the closely scrutinized TikTok-Oracle deal, known as “Project Texas,” on the same day that The Information reported that Oracle employees “only have limited access” to the source code and were not conducting a comprehensive review of the app’s safety.
“Oracle has begun the review of the code, although it’s, as you can understand, a complicated project that will take time for us to finish the details. So, it’s on track,” Chew said during a Bloomberg interview at the Qatar Economic Forum.
“Oracle and ourselves are working together with the US government to finalize the details of Project Texas,” Chew added.
Chew has repeatedly touted Project Texas — which also calls for Oracle to store all US user data — as a solution to address the concerns of skeptical lawmakers who fear China has backdoor access through TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.
TikTok has reportedly spent $1.5 billion to implement the partnership over the last two years.
“Project Texas” was the centerpiece of the company’s defense during Chew’s contentious appearance on Capitol Hill in March.
But skepticism about the partnership has grown in recent days.
Last week, Bloomberg reported that the deal was “largely in limbo” and that Oracle does not plan to pursue key elements, including the source code review and plans to handle submission TikTok’s app store updates, until it receives word from the Biden administration that “Project Texas” is an adequate safeguard.
“Project Texas is a very complicated project and a lot of the elements of the project is already in place and operational,” Chew added. “For example, today, by default, all US data is stored in the Oracle cloud service already, in the Oracle cloud infrastructure, and no longer in our own servers in Virginia and in Singapore.”
A TikTok spokesperson also denied the company’s partnership with Oracle was in jeopardy.
“Our conversations with the federal government are ongoing, and reporting that implementation of Project Texas has slowed is completely inaccurate,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The Post. “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.”
The TikTok boss also repeated his frequent claim that the Chinese government “has actually never asked for US user data.” He added that TikTok “will not provide it even if asked.”
“We will continue to invest to make sure that our data is as safe as possible,” Chew said.
The widening crackdown on TikTok has accelerated despite the company’s efforts.
This week, TikTok filed a lawsuit in an effort to block Montana’s decision to ban downloads of the app starting next year.
The company has argued the state’s ban is unconstitutional.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration reportedly warned executives at ByteDance that TikTok faced an outright ban in the US unless they divested their stakes in the company.
Source by [New York Post]