Forbes: US authorities launched an investigation into the surveillance of American journalists through TikTok

The FBI and the US Department of Justice are investigating the Chinese company ByteDance for spying on American journalists through its TikTok social media app. This was reported by Forbes sources familiar with the investigation.

According to the magazine, officials from the Department of Justice and the Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia requested information from ByteDance about attempts by company employees to access information about the whereabouts of journalists and other personal data of users through the TikTok application.

In turn, the FBI, sources told Forbes, conducted several interrogations in connection with surveillance. The departments themselves did not comment on the publication’s information.

In October 2022 Forbes reported that ByteDance used the TikTok app to spy on some US citizens. In December, an internal investigation by the company confirmed that employees of the social network used account credentials to follow journalists who write about TikTok.

It turned out that the company’s actions affected at least three Forbes journalists and a reporter for The Financial Times. According to ByteDance internal correspondence, the company was trying to find out the sources of alleged media leaks among its own employees.

ByteDance said it “strongly condemned” the actions of employees involved in surveillance who no longer work for the company. “Our internal investigation is still ongoing and we will cooperate with any official investigations,” ByteDance spokesperson Jennifer Banks said.

The US suspects ByteDance of collaborating with the Chinese authorities. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States started checking regarding TikTok. Against this background, the Chinese company has proposed a number of measures under the so-called Project Texas. Among other things ByteDance agreedso that the data of American TikTok users is stored by the American company Oracle, which will also review the TikTok software.

In December, the US Senate approved a bill to ban government employees from using TikTok on federal government devices. Similar prohibitions for officials were introduced in Great Britain and, according to media reports, New Zealand.

Po data Bloomberg, TikTok executives are considering splitting from ByteDance to address U.S. national security concerns. This option is considered if Project Texas fails.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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