Executives for Bytedance-owned TikTok claimed that users’ data wasn’t being shared with China, but that might be untrue. When former President Donald Trump’s administration wanted to ban TikTok because of national security concerns, ByteDance Global Chief Security Officer Roland Cloutier said, “We simply don’t share data with governments, including the Chinese government.”
The problem is that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) bought stake in Beijing’s ByteDance Technology company. That means they have access to information within the company.
Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of Public Policy for the Americas also told the Senate Commerce Committee, “We do not share information with the Chinese government,” but according to a letter from Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mark Warner (D-VA) to Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Lina Khan, there’s evidence to suggest that ByteDance has been sharing data with Beijing ByteDance Technology, which the company originally said they had “no affiliation.”
At least 80 internal TikTok meetings have been leaked, revealing that skeptics of TikTok were correct. ByteDance employees in China accessed private U.S. user data that included “birthdates, phone numbers, and device identification information.”
In 2020, the Department of Justice found that ByteDance employs at least 130 members of the CCP at their Beijing office, which is exactly what the Chinese government and their propaganda machine would want.
In a memorandum, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Intelligence and Securities at the Department of Commerce John Costello said, “According to Chinese press reporting, Bytedance has more party members and party organizations and is more ‘red,’ insiders pointed out, as compared with other Internet companies.”
The breach of policy and suspect intelligence gathering has been known for some time by the TikTok Trust and Safety Department. In a recording from September 2021, a director admitted that a Beijing-based engineer “has access to everything.”
Warner and Rubio continued, “Under these authorities, the CCP may compel access, regardless of where data is ultimately stored. While TikTok has suggested that migration to U.S.-based storage from a U.S. cloud service provider alleviates any risk of unauthorized access, these latest revelations raise concerns about the reliability of TikTok representations: since TikTok will ultimately control all access to the cloud-hosted systems, the risk of access to that data by PRC-based engineers (or CCP security services) remains significant in light of the corporate governance irregularities revealed by BuzzFeed News.”
Even worse, TikTok has now given itself access to faceprint and voiceprint information of all its users. This gives more data and information of millions of users across the globe to the CCP.
Warner and Rubio concluded, “In light of repeated misrepresentations by TikTok concerning its data security, data processing, and corporate governance practices, we urge you to act promptly on this matter.”