Insider claims China accessed TikTok data
TikTok finds itself under scrutiny once more as a former high-ranking executive at its parent company, Byte Dance, has lodged a lawsuit alleging wrongful dismissal in the San Francisco Superior Court. Yintao Yu, the ex-executive, has levied a series of serious accusations, among which is the claim that the Chinese Community Party (CCP) had privileged access to TikTok's data stored within the United States during his tenure from 2017 to 2018. These allegations have further fueled concerns surrounding the popular social media platform.
In addition to his previous claims, Yintao Yu, in his lawsuit, expressed that ByteDance “has served as a useful propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party.” This allegation underscores the concern that the parent company of TikTok has been involved in promoting the political messaging of the Chinese government.
Axios has reported that the lawsuit adds to the existing unease surrounding TikTok, further intensifying the discussions surrounding its implications for national security and the safeguarding of user data. These developments contribute to the broader debate on how best to address the concerns associated with the platform within the United States.
According to the lawsuit, Yintao Yu, who held the position of head of engineering for ByteDance's U.S. operations, revealed that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had a distinct presence within the Beijing-based company. Yu alleged the existence of a "special office or unit" affiliated with the CCP, which exerted substantial influence over the promotion of core Communist principles within the app. He asserted that this unit played a significant role in shaping the direction and advancement of these values within ByteDance.
TikTok is accused of endorsing "nationalistic content"
In the filed lawsuit, the company faced accusations of actively endorsing "nationalistic content" that had a dual purpose: to enhance user engagement on ByteDance's platforms and to rally support for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Additionally, the lawsuit alleged the existence of a "backdoor channel in the code" that provided the CCP with access to user data from the United States.
According to Yu’s suit ByteDance was “aware that if the Chinese government’s backdoor was removed from the international/U.S. version of the app, the Chinese government would, it feared, ban the company’s valuable Chinese-version apps.”
TikTok has consistently asserted that the Chinese state does not possess any access to the user data it collects, while emphasizing that data belonging to U.S. users is stored exclusively within the United States and Singapore. The company has been steadfast in maintaining its commitment to data privacy and security, aiming to alleviate concerns regarding the potential misuse of user information.
We reported earlier this month that a flaw in the TikTok app, which had the potential to facilitate identity theft attacks, was discovered and promptly resolved by officials. Security experts from Imperva identified the vulnerability, which could have allowed threat actors to steal personal information for use in phishing or identity theft attacks.
Although the flaw has been fixed, it remains uncertain whether it was exploited prior to its discovery. Imperva highlighted that the vulnerability was caused by a window message event handler that failed to validate the message origin properly, thereby granting attackers access to sensitive user data. TikTok's data security measures continue to face scrutiny as various Western countries and companies express concerns about potential data leaks to the Chinese government.Advertisement