The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI have launched investigations into ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok. It is accused of spying on journalists.
Unlawful collection of data
ByteDance is alleged to have violated US laws by collecting certain personal data. Among those affected are said to be journalists who have covered the tech industry and TikTok. Already at the end of last year, it became known that several US journalists as well as their relatives were monitored via TikTok. For example, their location data in China was queried to check whether they were in contact with employees of ByteDance.
ByteDance speaks of individual cases
ByteDance does not see a systematic approach behind this, but rather the violations of individual employees against US laws and company guidelines. Furthermore, a spokeswoman of the company stated to strongly condemn the action and to cooperate with authorities. However, this is by no means reassuring, as TikTok has long been suspected of misusing data and passing it on to the Chinese government in case of doubt. For this reason, the app is banned on the cell phones of EU parliament members as well as government employees in the US.
In addition, the U.S. government is currently considering a nationwide ban on the app, which is particularly popular among children and young people. Such a ban had already briefly existed under Donald Trump’s administration. Joe Biden had reversed the ban. In the meantime, however, there is a consensus in both the Republican and Democratic parties that TikTok is posing a serious threat to the US due to its comprehensive data collection. Further developments in this case are also likely to depend on the investigations that have now been launched.