US prosecutors probe ByteDance’s use of TikTok to track journalists

The US Division of Justice is probing ByteDance’s surveillance of American journalists by way of TikTok, in keeping with an individual conversant in the matter, as authorities scrutinise the favored social media platform’s Chinese language proprietor after it admitted to improperly acquiring consumer knowledge.

ByteDance in December revealed consumer knowledge from the short-form video app was obtained to check journalists’ places as a part of an inside investigation into info being shared with the media.

The DoJ and the US legal professional’s workplace for the Japanese District of Virginia have requested info from ByteDance on how workers used TikTok to search out particulars on American journalists’ places and different non-public knowledge, in keeping with Forbes, which first reported the investigations.

A UK-based Monetary Occasions journalist, Cristina Criddle, who had led a string of tales revealing that dozens of workers had left TikTok’s London workplace and that some had labored 12-hour days or had been demoted after taking day without work, was among the many targets.

ByteDance staff within the US and China obtained her IP addresses and different private knowledge to evaluate whether or not she was close to any ByteDance employees, however the firm discovered no leaks.

The corporate additionally focused a BuzzFeed reporter and a number of other customers linked to the journalists by their TikTok accounts.

ByteDance stated on Thursday: “We’ve strongly condemned the actions of the people discovered to have been concerned, and they’re not employed at ByteDance. Our inside investigation remains to be ongoing, and we are going to co-operate with any official investigations when delivered to us.”

The DoJ and FBI declined to remark. The US legal professional’s workplace for the Japanese District of Virginia didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The probes come because the US authorities has threatened to ban TikTok on nationwide safety grounds if ByteDance doesn’t promote its stake. The Committee on Overseas Funding in the USA, the US Treasury-led panel that vets international funding within the nation, has requested the divestiture as a part of its evaluation of the app, in keeping with individuals conversant in the matter.

TikTok has confronted scrutiny amid fears that American customers’ knowledge could also be shared with the Chinese language authorities, claims that the corporate has denied. A bipartisan group of senators has launched a invoice that will give the Biden administration the authority to ban Chinese language apps that pose safety threats.

For 2 years, TikTok has been engaged on a nationwide safety take care of the US authorities, though negotiations have lately stalled. TikTok has spent greater than $1.5bn on “Challenge Texas”, a company restructuring plan to safeguard consumer knowledge and content material from Chinese language affect by a partnership with US cloud software program group Oracle with the intention to meet the Cfius requests.

Extra reporting by Hannah Murphy in San Francisco

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