TikTok employees based in China have repeatedly accessed sensitive data from U.S. users despite the company previously indicating that the information would only be accessed from inside the U.S.
The revelation was contained in a report from BuzzFeed News that highlighted various statements made from numerous employees over the course of more than 80 internal TikTok meetings.
The fear that U.S. officials have is that U.S. user data could be accessed by ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, because Chinese companies are subjected to the rule of the Chinese Communist Party.
“The risk is that the government could force ByteDance to collect and turn over information as a form of ‘data espionage,’” the report said.
“There is, however, another concern: that the soft power of the Chinese government could impact how ByteDance executives direct their American counterparts to adjust the levers of TikTok’s powerful ‘For You’ algorithm, which recommends videos to its more than 1 billion users. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has called TikTok ‘a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.’”
The news that China-based TikTok employees have accessed the U.S. user data comes despite a company executive giving sworn testimony to the U.S. Senate that “world-renowned, US-based security team” controls who has access to the data.
One TikTok official reportedly said at an internal company meeting that “everything is seen in China,” while a top TikTok official said at a separate meeting that a China-based software engineer had “access to everything.”
BuzzFeed’s report said that the evidence that it reviewed showed that U.S. user data “was accessed far more frequently and recently than previously reported” and that the evidence “suggest[s] that the company may have misled lawmakers, its users, and the public by downplaying that data stored in the US could still be accessed by employees in China.”
This is an excerpt from The Daily Wire.