Roland Cloutier, head of global security at TikTok, steps down as the app faces scrutiny

Roland Cloutier, TikTok’s chief global security officer, who oversees cybersecurity, is stepping down as the company faces scrutiny from US officials over privacy concerns.

Roland Cloutier, TikTok's chief global security officer, who oversees cybersecurity, is stepping down as the company faces scrutiny from US officials over privacy concerns.

Roland Cloutier, TikTok’s chief global security officer, who oversees cybersecurity, is stepping down as the company faces scrutiny from US officials over privacy concerns.

Cloutier, who is based in Florida, will be replaced by New Jersian Kim Albarella, who has been appointed as interim head of global security organization TikTok — the change takes effect on September 2.

The move comes on the heels of a surprising BuzzFeed News report that revealed that US user data was “repeatedly accessed” by employees based in China.

With our recent announcement about data governance changes in the US, it’s time for me to move from my role as CEO of global security to a strategic advisory role focused on the business impact of security and trust programs, working directly with (CEO) Shaw, (ByteDance VP of Technology) Dingkun and other senior leaders’,” Cloutier wrote in a note on Friday.

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

However, TikTok is reshaping its global security team and moving China’s security issues, including its restriction from ByteDance, to more local teams.

It recently announced a US-based dedicated data security team known as “USDS” as a gatekeeper to US user information, reducing China’s access to data.

The company is discussing a structure under which the team will operate independently and is not under the control or oversight of TikTok, Reuters previously reported.

Cloutier, who is based in Florida, will replace New Jersey Kim Albarella (pictured), who has been appointed as interim head of global security organization TikTok

Cloutier, who is based in Florida, will replace New Jersey Kim Albarella (pictured), who has been appointed as interim head of global security organization TikTok

TikTok, which is based in the US and Singapore, is considering rolling out similar data security teams in other regions including the European Union, according to a source.

The company hired Cloutier from payroll processing company ADP in 2020 and Albarella previously worked at ADP for more than a decade.

A BuzzFeed News report, published on June 17, appears to have opened Pandora’s Box for TikTok – there have been several changes within the company and US officials are now calling for the app to be banned in the US.

The report claims that he heard a leaked audio of more than 80 internal meetings on TikTok.

The recordings, taken from September 2021 through January 2022, include 14 statements from nine TikTok employees who met to discuss the “Texas Project” – a secret effort to prevent engineers in China from retrieving the data.

An audio clip of a manager at TikTok referred to a ByteDance engineer as a “lead manager” who has access to everything, according to BuzzFeed News.

Then on June 29, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr posted on Twitter urging Apple and Google to take TikTok “from their app stores for a pattern of confidential data practices.”

Carr included a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook, expressing why TikTok should be removed, citing a report from last week that `shed new light on the serious national security threats posed by TikTok.

On June 29, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr posted on Twitter urging Apple and Google to join TikTok.

On June 29, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr posted on Twitter urging Apple and Google to “remove TikTok from their respective app stores due to a pattern of confidential data practices.”

The message continues with some troubling evidence as to why the China-owned app was removed.

This includes an incident in March 2020 when researchers discovered that the app, through the Apple App Store, was accessing sensitive user data – passwords, cryptocurrency wallet addresses, and personal messages.

Carr also notes that several US military branches have banned TikTok on government devices and urged individuals to remove the app from their personal smartphones.

He also points to TikTok’s decision in 2021 to pay $92 million to settle dozens of lawsuits accusing the app of collecting personal data without user consent – most of those users were minors – and selling it to advertisers.

Carr gave Apple and Google until July 8 to either remove the app or explain why they chose not to comply.

DailyMail.com has contacted Kar for comment and has yet to receive a response.

However, TikTok’s problems didn’t stop there: Nine Republican senators wrote to the company at a lengthy letter with questions about privacy issues.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew responded on June 30, confirming that employees based in China have access to US user data.

The message from TikTok does not clearly indicate which US user data has been or may be accessed by out-of-state employees, but it does answer 11 questions that senators have requested answers by July 18.

“[W]We are confident that when you review our responses, you will see that TikTok has not, at any time, misled Congress about our data and security controls and practices.

Leave a Comment