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China Can Easily Access U.S. TikTok Data, Whistleblower Alleges



Tik Tok

Employees at ByteDance, TikTok’s China-based parent company, can access U.S. data much more easily than the two companies have previously suggested, according to new whistleblower allegations. 

The news comes amid a bipartisan push to ban or restrict the app in the United States over its threat to national security.

A former ByteDance employee allegedly told Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) that they could access U.S. data with “nothing more than the click of a button,” according to Hawley. The whistleblower described it as “just like a light switch.” 

According to a press release from Hawley’s office, the whistleblower alleged, “TikTok and ByteDance employees – including members of the Chinese Communist Party known to be on ByteDance’s payroll – can switch between Chinese and U.S. data with nothing more than the click of a button.”

“TikTok and ByteDance employees use tools that allow for easy access to U.S. data. Some tools only require approval from a manager and a dataset owner before a China-based employee can access U.S. data,” the whistleblower revealed, adding, “TikTok coordinates activities with its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. They use the same data analysis tools and chat apps, and managers are in constant contact.” 

In November 2022, a bipartisan push to ban or restrict TikTok gained momentum after FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers that he is “extremely concerned” about TikTok’s operations in the United States.

“We do have national security concerns, obviously from the FBI’s end, about TikTok,” Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users, or control the recommendation algorithm which could be used for influence operations if they so choose, or to control software on millions of devices.”

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