TikTok’s global security chief to step down

(Reuters) – TikTok’s global chief security officer Roland Cloutier, who oversees cyber security, is stepping down from his role but will stay at the company, according to a memo on TikTok’s website.

Cloutier, who is based in Florida, said his move followed recent changes to the security teams at the video-sharing app, which is owned by China’s ByteDance and is facing growing scrutiny from U.S. regulators about the use of personal data.

“With our recent announcement about data management changes in the U.S., it’s time for me to transition from my role as Global Chief Security Officer into a strategic advisory role focusing on the business impact of security and trust programs, working directly with (CEO) Shou, (ByteDance VP of Technology) Dingkun and other senior leaders,” Cloutier wrote in the memo.

Cloutier was brought in two years ago to help TikTok handle traditional cybersecurity issues, as well as data security issues unique to TikTok due to its Chinese ownership.

However, TikTok has been reshuffling its global security team and moving China-specific security issues, including ringfencing it from ByteDance, to more localized teams.

It recently announced a dedicated U.S. data security team known as “USDS” as a gatekeeper for U.S. user information, minimizing China’s access to data. The company is discussing a structure under which the team would operate autonomously and not be under TikTok’s control or supervision, Reuters previously reported.

TikTok, whose leadership is based in the United States and Singapore, is considering rolling out similar data security teams in other regions including the EU, according to a source.

The company hired Cloutier from payroll processing company Automated Data Processing Inc (ADP) in 2020.

Kim Albarella, a senior member of TikTok’s security team, will serve as interim head of global security. Albarella previously worked for ADP for more than a decade.

TikTok has faced increasing questions from U.S. senators about the security of data of American users — and some want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. TikTok told lawmakers earlier this month it is working on a final agreement with the Biden Administration that would “fully safeguard user data and U.S. national security interests.”

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