TikTok staff in China allegedly accessed U.S. user data

Jun 22, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership

TikTok allowed U.S. user data to be seen by staff in China, a report claims, despite testimony to an October Senate hearing insisting it has tough controls preventing access to the data in the territory.

The ByteDance-owned TikTok has always been the subject of privacy concern, with critics often fearing that data about U.S. users may end up stored in China. While TikTok has repeatedly offered assurances that U.S. data is stored in the United States, a report claims that Chinese employees can still access the sensitive data trove.

Leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok meetings reviewed by Buzzfeed include 14 statements from nine separate TikTok employees revealing engineers in China had access to U.S. data between September 2021 and January 2022, at a minimum.

Allegations started in October 2021

The allegations surface despite sworn testimony by a TikTok executive in October informing the Senate that a "world-renowned US-based security team" dictates who can or cannot see the data.

In some instances, the recordings describe how U.S. employees talk to China-based counterparts to discuss U.S. user data, with U.S. staff either not knowing how to access the data on their own, or not having permission to do so.

In another recording, a member of TikTok's Trust and Safety department mentions how "Everything is seen in China," while another brings up a China-based engineer who is a "Master Admin" who has "access to everything."

The allegations are problematic for TikTok, considering the uneasy political relationship between the U.S. and China. Indeed, the potential access and fear of exploitation led to an executive order in 2020 demanding the sale of TikTok citing national security concerns, followed by many months of legal challenges.

Tiktok response

Responding to the report, TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said "We know we're among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data. That's why we hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and bring in reputable, independent third-parties to test our defenses."

On Friday, TikTok proclaimed it had reached a "significant milestone" in changing the way it stored U.S. user data by default to U.S. servers operated by Oracle, rather than using data centers in the U.S. and Singapore. The latter will continue to be used for backups for the moment but data is expected to be deleted as the company fully pivots to Oracle's cloud servers.


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Talent shortage in Singapore with 8 in 10 employers reporting difficulty in filling roles

Jun 15, 2022 | 🚀 Fathership

In ManpowerGroup Singapore's Q2 Employment Outlook Survey, the company revealed positive sentiments regarding pay increments and bonuses. In the latest edition of this report, for Q3, the sentiments have shifted towards hiring between the July to September 2022 period - labelled as "a record high" in the report.

In brief, Singapore’s net employment outlook (NEO) is at +40%, with the previous "record high" being in Q4 2011 at +31%. Further, employers surveyed in all 11 sectors (i.e. communications & media, manufacturing, and construction) anticipate positive headcount growth in Q3, with not-for-profit employers reporting "strongest" hiring intentions at 67%.

Despite the optimistic outlook, Singapore’s talent shortage level has been found to be at "its highest in 16 years", with more than eight in 10 (84%) employers reporting difficulty in filling roles. This statistic represented a 20% increase from 2021. Prior to that, talent shortage levels were quite high in 2018 at 56%, and in 2010 at 53%. According to the findings, the most difficult-to-fill roles are in restaurants & hotels (97%), other services (89%), and construction (88%).

That said, the "most sought-after" professions are: IT & data, operation & logistics, sales & marketing, manufacturing & production, and customer facing & front office. On top of that, employers are also looking at soft skills such as critical thinking & analysis, creativity & originality, resilience & adaptability, leadership & social influence, and reasoning & problem solving.

"The shift from pandemic to endemic has given companies greater clarity on their business outlooks," explained Linda Teo, Country Manager, ManpowerGroup Singapore. "Employers are ramping up their hiring due to a combination of factors like pent-up demand for manpower, employee attrition, and shortage of workers with the right skillsets."

Dissecting the local numbers

Filtering Singapore's NEO figure, analysts discovered that:

  • More than half (52%) of employers plan to hire;
  • More than one in 10 (12%) of employers expect a staffing decrease;
  • Close to four in 10 (35%) of employers plan to keep workforce levels steady, and
  • Less than five in 10 (2%) of employers are undecided about the hiring/talent scene.

In addition to not-for-profit employers having strong hiring intentions, those in other services (professional, scientific & technical, and administrative & support) similarly have positive intentions at 59%. These employers are then followed by those in banking, finance, insurance & real estate (56%), wholesale & retail trade (50%), and restaurants & hotels (46%).

A global perspective

Of the more than 40,000 employers surveyed across the globe, many are likewise expecting to hire more workers in the Q3 2022. According to findings, the global NEO is at +33% - which revealed hiring intentions to "increase year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter" respectively at +18% and +4%. In terms of per country/territory data, Mexico ranks top with a +59% NEO, while India has a +51%; Mainland China +29%, and Hong Kong +11%.

India's NEO is the strongest in the APAC region for the second consecutive quarter, up 13% since Q2. As for Hong Kong's NEO, it improved by 8% compared to Q2 2022, and by 10% compared to the previous year.

Looking at the hiring/talent scene, analysts discovered that digital roles continue to drive "most demand" with employers in IT & technology (+44%). This is followed by those in banking, finance, insurance & real estate (+38%), construction (33%), and manufacturing (33%).