TikTok security chief steps down following Oracle database move

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TikTok's global chief security officer Roland Cloutier has stepped down, shortly after the company announced a significant shift in its data protection rules.

Kim Albarella, who was previously head of security risk, vendor, and client assurance at the company is set to step into Cloutier's shoes on an interim basis.

The news comes as TikTok looks to revamp the way in which it handles data,  migrating US users' data to servers owned by Oracle after enduring years of scrutiny regarding its data handling practices.

Who is Roland Cloutier?

Prior to his two years at TikTok, Cloutier held senior cybersecurity roles at Dell EMC, human resources and payroll software firm ADP,  and Paradigm Technology Partners.

In his new advisory role, Cloutier will work with senior leadership to "focus on the business impact" of TikTok's security and trust programs.

Albarella is also an alumnus of ADP and has also held roles at Ernst and Young and Morgan Stanley. 

"Part of our evolving approach has been to minimize concerns about the security of user data in the US, including the creation of a new department to manage US user data for TikTok," TikTok chief executive Shou Zi Chew and ByteDance vice president of technology Dingkun Hong said in a statement.

"This is an important investment in our data protection practices, and it also changes the scope of the Global Chief Security Officer (CSO) role".

Cloutier is set to step down from his day-to-day activities from September 2.

What is behind the move?

The move to rejig TikTok's cybersecurity leadership comes as the scrutiny on the firm regarding its data practices shows no signs of abating.

Buzzfeed recently published allegations that China-based ByteDance employees had access US users' private data between September 2021 and January 2022, based on leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings.

The allegations definitely proved to put the firm in some serious hot water, motivating several Republican senators to send a letter to TikTok leadership.

The letter called Buzzfeed's findings "stark, but not surprising" and asked that the firm answer a myriad of questions regarding the allegations. 

Changes to its cloud hosting and its security leadership aren't only the moves that TikTok has taken to help ensure data privacy.

TikTok has also assured users that it is making other operational changes to help ensure data privacy, including establishing a committee with US-based leadership solely to manage US user data.

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Will McCurdy has been writing about technology for over five years. He has a wide range of specialities including cybersecurity, fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, cloud computing, payments, artificial intelligence, retail technology, and venture capital investment. He has previously written for AltFi, FStech, Retail Systems, and National Technology News and is an experienced podcast and webinar host, as well as an avid long-form feature writer.