TikTok Staff Accused Of Obtaining Private Data To Track American Journalists' Locations
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating TikTok's Chinese owner, ByteDance, for its surveillance of American journalists. This comes after the social media platform admitted to obtaining user data improperly.
ByteDance admitted in December that TikTok data was used to track journalists location during an internal investigation.
Forbes reported that the US attorney's office and DoJ in Virginia have asked ByteDance for details on how TikTok staff obtained private data on American journalists' locations.
UK Financial Times journalist, Cristina Criddle, was targeted among others after leading reports that revealed TikTok's London office had witnessed the resignation of many employees, some of whom were demoted after taking a leave of absence or had worked 12-hour days.
ByteDance checked for leaks of private data by monitoring employee's proximity using IP addresses, however, no breaches were found.
The company went after a BuzzFeed reporter and TikTok users connected to the journalist.
ByteDance strongly denounced the involvement of certain employees, who have been dismissed. The company's internal inquiry continues, while it plans to support all official investigations that follow.
The US government has given a warning to ByteDance to sell its stake in TikTok, or else it could face a ban based on national security grounds.
As a part of assessing the app, The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a panel led by the US Treasury that examines foreign investment, has asked for divestiture.
Despite TikTok's denial, concerns have been raised about the possibility of American users' data being accessed by the Chinese government. A group of senators seeks to empower the Biden administration with the ability to ban such apps that represent a potential security risk.
TikTok has been in talks with the US government for a national security deal for two years, but negotiations have hit a snag.
To address US concerns regarding Chinese influence on user data and content, TikTok has spent over $1.5bn on "Project Texas" which involves a partnership with Oracle. Through this collaboration, TikTok aims to comply with Cfius requests and secure its users' data.
In 2020, TikTok was banned in India.
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