AUSTIN (KXAN) – At a South by Southwest panel Saturday morning, TikTok officials talked about their efforts to address U.S. national security concerns and build trust with key government stakeholders.
“We spent the last two years and $1.5 billion designing and then building a comprehensive framework to isolate U.S. user data and address the US national security concerns,” said Jeff Louisma, head of cyber and data defense U.S. Data Security for TikTok. “We’ve always understood these concerns and wanted to address them head-on for a constructive dialogue with the committee for foreign investments in the US recipients.”
“These measures are beyond anything any of our competitors have undertaken,” Louisma continued.
Already around the country, government leaders have begun implementing bans on the popular application. In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott issued a ban on the use of TikTok on any government-issued devices in early January. A couple of weeks later, UT-Austin announced that TikTok would be blocked on any device connected to the university’s networks.
It’s not just in Texas — 25 states have banned the app on state-owned devices. Federally, Biden signed a bill into law temporarily prohibiting the use of TikTok on devices owned by U.S. government agencies, according to reporting from NBC.
TikTok’s Project Texas (a nod to Oracle, the Austin-based software company that oversees TikTok data) aims to safeguard user data and protect U.S. national security interests.
“We’ve already made significant progress and continue to advance our objectives. What we are pioneering is incredible, and we have important work left ahead,” Louisma said.
Three TikTok creators spoke on the panel about how TikTok has impacted their lives. One creator on the panel was UT Austin chemistry professor Kate Bibedorf, who goes by “Kate the Chemist” on TikTok, where she has over 200,000 followers. Biberdorf spoke about her reaction to the UT Austin TikTok ban.
“It was just another step in the wrong direction where I felt like my rights are being taken away, and it makes me extraordinarily uncomfortable,” she said.
“I have been trying, as much as I can, to use Tiktok on campus,” Biberdorf said. “I don’t like being told what I can and can’t do. And that just makes me extremely uncomfortable. When a university is telling me I can’t use one of my best educational tools.”