FBI and DOJ Investigate TikTok’s Chinese Parent Company ByteDance for Spying on Americans

07 July 2022, Berlin: The logo of the video community TikTok at the fashion fair Premium.
Jens Kalaene/picture alliance via Getty Images, Justin Chin/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The FBI and DOJ have reportedly launched investigations into TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, over allegations of spying on journalists, including Americans.

Engadget reports that the FBI and DOJ are investigating ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, after the company acknowledged firing four employees for using the app to track the whereabouts of two journalists in the United States. The information is released at a time when ByteDance is under increased pressure to sell its stake in TikTok because failure to do so could result in the popular video app being banned in the U.S.

Shou Zi Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok Inc., during an interview at the TikTok office in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg/Getty)

Breitbart News recently reported that TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, has come under pressure from the U.S. government to sell its shares in the popular video-sharing app or face a ban in the country. This development is a significant policy shift by the Biden administration and has sparked a new round of debate. Many have accused the Biden administration of not taking the alleged security threat posed by the China-based company seriously enough, especially after the Chinese company hired a Biden-connected consulting firm.

After ByteDance admitted that its employees had improperly accessed the data of U.S. users, congressional critics began to express concerns about TikTok’s surveillance practices. Forbes reports that the DOJ has served subpoenas to ByteDance. However, it’s still unclear how far the investigation into the incident has gone. The FBI has also interviewed people in connection with the matter, though it is not yet clear if these interviews are a part of the same investigation.

In a statement, a ByteDance spokesperson addressed the issue, stating, “We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance.” The spokesperson also confirmed that the company’s internal investigation is ongoing, and ByteDance is committed to cooperating with any official investigations when brought to them.

Concerns over the security and privacy of user data on TikTok have been rekindled in light of the case. Questions have been raised regarding the app’s potential to be used as a weapon for surveillance as it continues to become more popular among American users. The growing tension between the United States and China over data privacy and national security issues is further highlighted by the increasing pressure on ByteDance to separate from TikTok.

Read more at Engadget here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan


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