A new report published in New York Times has reiterated TikTok’s breach of US users’ data, including two journalists, as reported by Forbes late last year. The Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, the FBI and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia are conducting a joint investigation into ByteDance – TikTok’s parent company.
The investigation was launched after ByteDance admitted that a few of its employees had access to US journalist data. This was done to find suspected internal conversations and leaks of business documents and to journalists.
The staff obtained the IP addresses of these journalists and their TikTok followers in an attempt to find clues about potential data leaks. However, the entire effort proved to be in vain. These employees were later fired.
TikTok’s US problem
It has been a tough few months for TikTok following the investigations by the US authorities. The Biden administration offered TikTok to divest its interest in the United States. However, the company stated that it will not solve the data protection problem.
If the ban happens, it will be a massive blow to the giant, given that the US is its biggest market.
It offered an alternative “Project Texas” instead. Accordingly, all US users’ data is proposed to be stored locally, which will be duly audited by the US-based Oracle. However, the idea did not go down well with the authorities given Oracle’s shady recent history.
The US already banned the app from all public entities a few months ago. And with the existing tensions, TikTok risks being totally banned in the country. A bill under the Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries (DATA) Act has already been approved by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee. This, if passed, would allow the government to place a permanent ban on the app.
We are disappointed to see this hasty legislation moving forward, despite its significant negative impact on free speech for the millions of Americans who use and love TikTok.TikTok
Canada also launched a similar investigation into TikTok’s data collection and sharing practices. It aims to determine whether the app obtains meaningful consent before it collects and uses user data.
With rampant pressure from the authorities, it’s fair to say that there are tough times ahead for TikTok.