Former CEO of TikTok parent company claims China maintained access

Former CEO of TikTok parent company claims China ‘maintained’ access to US data – The Hill

A former executive at TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has claimed that the Chinese government has “maintained” access to the company’s US data.

Yintao Yu, who served as technical director for ByteDance’s US operations from August 2017 to November 2018, earlier this month filed a lawsuit in the California Supreme Court for San Francisco County alleging wrongful dismissal for serving as a Whistleblower acted and exposed what Yu believed to be unethical and illegal practices.

In a complaint filed on Friday, he claimed the Chinese Communist Party used ByteDance as a “propaganda tool” to suppress or promote content conducive to the country’s interests.

The complaint alleges that the Chinese government was able to monitor ByteDance’s work from its Beijing headquarters and gave the company guidelines to promote “core communist values”.

“The committee retained unrestricted access to all company data, including data stored in the United States,” the complaint reads.

He told the New York Times in an interview that he saw engineers for the Chinese version of TikTok push content spreading anti-Japanese sentiment. Yu explained that US TikTok users’ data was stored in the US while he worked for the company, but engineers in China still had access to it.

Social media platform TikTok, of which ByteDance is a part, has come under intense scrutiny over its data security practices in recent months.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Trade Committee in late March and was questioned by members of both parties on issues including the app’s alleged threats to national security, privacy and the risk to minors.

Lawmakers in general have raised concerns that TikTok, via ByteDance, could be required to share US data with the Chinese government through a 2017 national security law that obliges Chinese companies to share requested information with Chinese intelligence agencies.

TikTok and ByteDance officials have claimed that the company is independent of the Chinese government and not subject to its requests.

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The Hill has reached out to ByteDance for comment.

The controversy surrounding TikTok has prompted federal and state lawmakers to take action to restrict or ban the platform. About three dozen states have banned TikTok from their state devices, and the federal government has also banned it on devices used by federal employees.

Some lawmakers have also called for a total ban on TikTok in the US.

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