A former executive at TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has claimed that the Chinese government has “continued” access to the US company’s data.
Yintao Yu, who served as head of engineering at ByteDance’s US operations from August 2017 to November 2018, filed a lawsuit in California Superior Court for San Francisco County earlier this month alleging wrongful termination of serving as a whistleblower who exposes what Yu considers unethical. and illegal acts.
He alleged in a complaint filed on Friday that the Chinese Communist Party has used ByteDance as a “propaganda tool” to suppress or promote content based on what is favorable to the country’s interests.
The complaint said the Chinese government was able to monitor ByteDance’s work from its headquarters in Beijing and gave the company guidance on promoting “core communist principles.”
“The Committee maintains maximum access to all company data, even data stored in the United States,” the complaint states.
He told The New York Times in an interview that he saw engineers for the Chinese version of TikTok pushing content that spread anti-Japanese sentiment. Yu explained that data for US TikTok users was stored in the US while he worked for the company, but Chinese engineers still had access to it.
Social media platform TikTok, owned by ByteDance, has faced heavy scrutiny in recent months over its data security practices.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in late March, where he was grilled by members of both parties on topics such as the app’s alleged threats to national security, privacy of data and risk to minors.
Lawmakers have generally expressed concerns that TikTok, through ByteDance, may be required to provide US data to the Chinese government through a 2017 national security law that requires Chinese companies to provide requested information by Chinese intelligence agencies.
The leaders of TikTok and ByteDance maintain that the company is independent of the Chinese government and not subject to its demands.
The Hill has reached out to ByteDance for comment.
The controversy surrounding TikTok has led lawmakers at the federal and state levels to act to place restrictions or attempt to ban the platform. About three dozen states have banned TikTok from their state-owned devices, and the federal government has also banned it from devices used by federal employees.
Some lawmakers have also called for banning TikTok in the US entirely.
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