China’s ByteDance admits using TikTok data to track journalists

BEIJING: Employees of Chinese tech giants ByteDance improperly accessed data from social media platforms TikTok to spy on journalists in an effort to identify the source of the leak to the media, the company admitted on Friday.
TikTok has gone to great lengths to convince customers and governments of major markets like the United States that users’ data privacy is protected and that it poses no threat to national security.
But parent company ByteDance told AFP on Friday that some employees had accessed the data of two journalists as part of an internal investigation into leaking the company’s information to the media.
They had hoped to link employees to a Financial Times reporter and a former BuzzFeed journalist, an email from ByteDance’s general counsel, Erich Andersen, seen by AFP said.
Both journalists have previously covered the contents of leaked company documents.
Andersen said that none of the employees found to be involved are still working for ByteDance, though he did not disclose how many have been laid off.
In a statement to AFP, ByteDance said it condemns the “wrong initiative that seriously violated the company’s Code of Conduct”.
Employees obtained IP addresses of journalists to determine if they were in the same location as ByteDance colleagues suspected of leaking confidential information, according to a company review of the plan. led by their compliance team and an outside law firm. Andersen.
However, the plan failed in part because the IP addresses only revealed approximate location data.
TikTok is once again in the spotlight in the United States, with Congress poised to approve a nationwide ban on the use of the hugely popular short-video app on government devices due to perceived fraud. security risks.
The House of Representatives this week could pass legislation banning the use of TikTok on public servants’ professional phones, a move that would follow bans in about 20 US states.
TikTok has managed to convince US authorities that US data is protected and stored on servers located in the country.
But according to media reports, it has also admitted that employees in China had access to users’ data in the United States, although the company insists that it was in those cases. strict and very limited.


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