TikTok confirms that journalists’ data was accessed by employees of its parent company

Written by orobulletin

New York

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has fired four employees who improperly accessed the personal data of two journalists on its platform. TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter It was confirmed by CNN Thursday.

According to the company, TikTok user data from two journalists who worked for the Financial Times and BuzzFeed was accessed while ByteDance employees investigated possible employee leaks to the press. His CEO of TikTok and his ByteDance company revealed to employees in two of his emails on Thursday.

The personal data accessed from the journalist’s account included IP addresses, according to a spokeswoman. An IP address can provide information about a user’s location.

“Participants have abused their powers to gain access to TikTok user data,” said TikTok CEO Shou. According to an email excerpt seen by CNN, Chu said in an email to employees: “This is unacceptable.”

Disclosure could spark more scrutiny TikTok faces national security concerns in the US, given its ties to China. US lawmakers have raised concerns about user data security and the company’s Chinese employees having access to information about his TikTok users in the US.

Earlier this year, BuzzFeed News reported that some U.S. user data was being repeatedly accessed from China, citing one employee who allegedly said “everything is seen in China.” increased. TikTok has confirmed that some employees in China have access to U.S. user data, but the company said its U.S.-based security team will determine who can access U.S. user data from China. I’m here.

In October, Forbes reported that ByteDance planned to use TikTok data to spy on certain US citizens. In a Thursday report, Forbes named three of his journalists the company was tracking. (TikTok declined to comment on whether a third journalist was actually affected.) The New York Times also reported that some of the journalist’s contacts on TikTok were also caught in the chase, but The company declined to confirm.

“The misconduct of these individuals who are no longer employed by ByteDance was an abuse of power to gain access to user data,” Oberwetter said in a statement Thursday. “This misconduct is unacceptable and inconsistent with TikTok’s overall efforts to earn user trust.”

Following this incident, A spokesperson said TikTok has reorganized its internal audit and risk teams and removed access to U.S. user data for those teams. “We take data security very seriously and will continue to enhance our access protocols, which have already been significantly improved and strengthened since this incident occurred,” he said.

The Financial Times said, “Spying on reporters, interfering with their work, or intimidating sources is totally unacceptable. Before deciding on a formal response, we should read this story more fully. We will investigate,” according to a statement included in the newspaper’s report.

In a statement to CNN, a BuzzFeed spokesperson said it was “deeply disturbed” by the disclosure and called it “a blatant disregard for the privacy and rights of journalists and TikTok users.”

“Following a series of reports by BuzzFeed News, a major problem within the parent company has been exposed, resulting in employees accessing US users’ data from China and ByteDance sending pro-China messages to the US. That’s even more annoying because they’ve tried to force it on people,” a BuzzFeed spokesperson said.

More than a dozen states, including Maryland, South Dakota and Texas, have announced bans on TikTok for state employees on government-issued devices in recent weeks, and a small but growing number of universities have also Blocking access to TikTok on school-owned devices. Or a WiFi network. This week, the Senate passed a bill banning TikTok from all US government devices. Three lawmakers also introduced legislation aimed at banning short-form video apps from operating in the United States.

TikTok is now Engaged in years of negotiations with the U.S. government on potential deals to address national security concerns and allow the app to continue serving U.S. customers. It also said it takes steps to separate U.S. user data from the rest of its business, including through partnerships with U.S.-based Oracle.

“Regardless of cause or effect, this misguided investigation is a serious violation of the company’s code of conduct and has been condemned by the company,” said Luvo, CEO of ByteDance. Liang said in an email to employees on Thursday. “We cannot take integrity risks that compromise the trust of our users, employees and stakeholders.”

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