TikTok announced the appointment of a new security chief, as pressure on the popular video app grew in the United States. TikTok said in a statement that Kim Albarella has been appointed as the interim head of TikTok’s global security team, and she will succeed Roland Cloutier.
Claudier will step down from day-to-day operations on September 2 to take on a strategic advisory role, focusing on the business impact of security and trust initiatives. “With our recent announcement of data management reforms in the U.S., now is the time for me to transition from the role of the global chief security officer to a strategic advisor focused on the business impact of security and trust projects, directly Collaborated with the CEO, ByteDance Technology VP, and other senior leaders.”
TikTok hired Claudier from payroll processing firm ADP in 2020, and Albarrera had also previously worked at ADP for more than a decade. TikTok CEO Zhou Shouzi and ByteDance Technology Vice President Hong Dingkun said in a statement: “One of the ways we are growing is to minimize data security concerns for U.S. users, including creating a new division for TikTok to manage US user data. This is an important investment in our data protection measures and changes the role of the global CSO.”
Several U.S. senators sent a letter to Zhou on June 27 expressing concerns about the Buzzfeed News report. The report said TikTok’s U.S. consumer data was obtained by Chinese engineers. The lawmakers said it “goes beyond the realm of consumer data and into the realm of national security.”
FCC member Brendan Carr, always one of TikTok’s most vocal opponents, urged Apple and Google to remove the video app from their respective app stores. This week, Carr testified before a House subcommittee, expressing his concern that military personnel using the app could endanger national security.
TikTok responded to the senators’ concerns in a letter dated June 30, acknowledging that certain Chinese employees have access to information on U.S. users, but denying the information flowed to third parties.
TikTok also said that the company is working with the U.S. government to strengthen the security of user information, especially any information that is defined as “protected” by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). Additionally, the company decided to store U.S. user information on servers in a U.S. data center owned by software giant Oracle.
Cloutier was considering leaving in the last quarter, according to people familiar with the matter, as the company has been building out a dedicated security team for U.S. data, called “USDS,” to meet those needs in the region. The team reports directly to TikTok’s CEO and also includes employees working in engineering, product, content moderation and operations.
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