Former ByteDance executive says China used TikTok data to track Hong Kong protesters

Tech news
solo10 June 2023Last Update : 4 months ago
Former ByteDance executive says China used TikTok data to track Hong Kong protesters

This is the latest in a series of allegations leveled against the short video sharing platform and its China-based parent company.

A former executive of Chinese company ByteDance, which owns the popular short-video app TikTok, has claimed that some members of the ruling Communist Party used data held by the company to identify and trace protesters in Hong Kong. Did.

In a legal filing, Yintao Yu, former head of engineering for ByteDance in the US, says the same people had access to US user data, an allegation the company denies.

Yu, who worked for the company in 2018, recently pleaded guilty to the allegations in a wrongful dismissal case filed in May in San Francisco Superior Court.

In documents submitted to the court, they said ByteDance had a “superuser” credential – also known as a “godly credential” – that allowed a special committee of Chinese Communist Party members stationed at the company to collect information collected by ByteDance. Enabled to view all data entered. US users.

Use of a ‘God Credential’

The filing said that the credential acted as a “backdoor to any barriers allegedly installed by ByteDance to protect the data from CCP surveillance”.

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous region of China with its own government. In recent years, the former British colony has come under more far-reaching control by Beijing, following large-scale protests in 2014 and 2019.

Yu said he observed God Credentials being used to monitor Hong Kong protesters and civil rights activists by monitoring their locations and devices, their network information, SIM card identities, IP addresses and communications.

ByteDance said in a statement that Yu’s allegations are baseless.

“It is curious that Mr Yu has never raised these allegations in the five years since he terminated his employment for Flipagram in July 2018,” the company said, referring to an app.

ByteDance said, “The purpose of their actions is clearly to attract media attention.”

“We plan to vigorously contest the baseless claims and allegations in this complaint”.

Yu’s attorney and a partner at the law firm Nasiri & Jung, Charles Jung, said that Yu chose to press charges because he was “distressed to hear the recent congressional testimony from the CEO of TikTok” when Shou Zee Chew, a Singaporean Strongly denied by the Chinese authorities. had access to user data.

Jung said, “It is risky to speak the truth openly in court, but it takes courage to speak the truth for social change.” “It is important to him that public policy be based on accurate information, so he is determined to tell his story”.

Tension is increasing over Tiktok

Tiktok is under intense investigation We and how it handles data around the world and whether it poses a national security risk. Some US lawmakers have expressed concern that TikTok’s ties to ByteDance mean the data it holds is subject to Chinese law.

They also argue that the app, which has more than 150 million monthly active users in the US and more than a billion users worldwide, could be used to increase China’s influence.

During the belligerent March House hearing, lawmakers from both parties questioned Chew’s company over alleged ties to Beijing, data protection and harmful content on the app. Chew has repeatedly denied that TikTok shares user data or has any ties to Chinese authorities.

To address such concerns, TikTok has said it will work with Oracle to store all US data within the country.

In an earlier court filing, Yu accused ByteDance of serving as a “propaganda tool” for the Chinese Communist Party by promoting nationalistic content and taking down content that did not serve the party’s objectives. He also said that ByteDance was responsive to requests from the Communist Party to share information.

Yu also accused ByteDance of scraping content from competitors and users in order to inflate key engagement metrics. He says he was fired for sharing his concerns about “wrong conduct” with others at the company.

In mainland China, ByteDance operates Douyin, which is targeted at the domestic market.

TikTok is a global app available in most other countries. It was also available in Hong Kong until TikTok was forced out of the market in 2020 following the enactment of a comprehensive national security law.

Anyone who tries to open TikTok from within Hong Kong will see a message that reads, “We regret to inform you that we have ceased operating TikTok in Hong Kong”.

Short Link

Sorry Comments are closed