According to Forbes and The New York Times, the parent firm of TikTok, ByteDance, has been the subject of a criminal investigation by the US government for unauthorized access to the personal information of many US people.
Once TikTok revealed in December that four ByteDance workers had been fired in connection with the event as a result of an internal assessment, news of the investigation—which apparently entailed a subpoena to ByteDance and a number of FBI interviews—came to light.
According to TikTok at the time, two of the sacked workers had offices in China and two in the US. Two journalists were among the TikTok users being watched, including the Forbes reporter who broke the news of the Department of Justice investigation on Friday.
The FBI, the DOJ, and the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia—who is purportedly also involved in the investigation—refused to comment. An inquiry for comment was not answered by TikTok. A corporation that US officials claim poses a risk to national security is coming under increasing pressure, as seen by the reported inquiry. Politicians worry that the Chinese government would put pressure on TikTok or its parent to pass up the user data it gathers from US consumers.
The United States, the European Union, Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand have all widely banned TikTok on official government devices as a result of the worries. The TikTok owners have been threatened with a statewide US ban by the Biden administration unless they sell their stakes in the well-liked social media app, which is used by more than 100 million Americans.
Employees of ByteDance were caught on camera accessing the journalists’ IP addresses and other device information as part of the surveillance that resulted in their termination. According to the early reports on the incident, the staff members were looking for the source of press leaks. There is yet no proof that the Chinese government was involved in the spying or that it was directed by them.