ByteDance Admits TikTok's Spying on Journalists

ByteDance Admits TikTok's Spying on Journalists
Photo: 23.12.2022 684

Chinese ByteDance confirmed it used TikTok to monitor journalists’ physical location using their IP addresses, reported Forbes.

An internal investigation by ByteDance, owner of the short video platform TikTok, found that employees tracked multiple journalists covering the company, improperly gaining access to their IP addresses and user data in an attempt to identify whether they had been in the same locales as ByteDance employees.

The investigation, internally known as Project Raven, began this summer after BuzzFeed News published a story revealing that China-based ByteDance employees had repeatedly accessed U.S. user data, based on more than 80 hours of audio recordings of internal TikTok meetings, stating that ByteDance Chinese employees repeatedly accessed US user data. Project Raven has been tracking Emily Baker-White, Katharine Schwab, and Richard Nieva, three Forbes journalists that formerly worked at BuzzFeed News.

ByteDance admitted to the “misconduct” and fired Chris Lepitak, its chief internal auditor who led the team responsible for the investigation.

“The misconduct of certain individuals, who are no longer employed at ByteDance, was an egregious misuse of their authority to obtain access to user data,” 

TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide was quoted by Forbes as saying.

TikTok has repeatedly denied its data can be accessed or misused in China. TikTok told lawmakers in June that access to certain U.S. user data — likely including location — will be “limited only to authorized personnel, pursuant to protocols being developed with the U.S. Government.”

Brendan Carr, an FCC commissioner who called on Apple and Google to ban TikTok following the June BuzzFeed News report, said: 

“At the precise moment when TikTok is trying to convince U.S. officials that it can be trusted — when it has every incentive to ensure the security of user data — its Beijing-based parent company abused its systems to obtain data on reporters that are covering TikTok? This should be the final nail in the coffin for the idea that U.S. officials can trust TikTok.”

Source: Forbes

digital markets  China 

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