New York Times by Cecilia Kang, ByteDance Inquiry Finds Employees Obtained User Data of 2 Journalists
ByteDance, the China-based parent company of TikTok, said on Thursday that an internal investigation found that employees had inappropriately obtained the data of U.S. TikTok users, including two reporters.
The investigation was initiated after an article was published by Forbes, and the inquiry confirms part of that report and acknowledges the privacy and security risks associated with TikTok that U.S. lawmakers, state governors and the Trump and Biden administrations have raised for more than two years. More than a dozen states have banned TikTok from government-issued devices, and the company has been in prolonged negotiations with the administration on security and privacy measures that would block any potential access of U.S. user data by ByteDance and the Chinese government.
One person on the team resigned and three were fired. Two of those employees were based in China and two were in the United States.
Intelligence officials, including the F.B.I. director Christopher Wray, has warned that Chinese officials can siphon sensitive data about U.S. citizens to use for surveillance and to spread propaganda.
“TikTok is essentially a back door for the Communist Party to track keystrokes, contact lists and location, and there is no way to turn it off,” Mr. Hawley said in an interview this week. “Under Chinese law, ByteDance is obligated to turn over data and that is a major privacy risk for Americans.”
The Department of Defense has been warning people not to use TikTok and this reporting by the Times is exactly why. I don’t have a TikTok account, and you should give consideration to whether you and your family should have an account.