The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are investigating Chinese company ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, for surveilling Americans, according to Forbes.
The DOJ Fraud Section and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia subpoenaed information from the company about its employees’ efforts to access the location and other private information of American journalists through TikTok, Forbes reported, citing an anonymous source. The FBI is conducting interviews on the same subject.
ByteDance employees used TikTok data last year to track the location of journalists who were reporting on the company and gained access to their IP addresses in an attempt to see if they had been in the same location as ByteDance employees. The company has acknowledged the surveillance and condemned the employees responsible for it.
“We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance. Our internal investigation is still ongoing, and we will cooperate with any official investigations when brought to us,” a spokesman told Forbes.
ByteDance used TikTok to track my location — and the locations of two of my colleagues — to try to find our sources. We reported on this back in October, but kept things vague to protect sources. Today ByteDance admitted it, so we can say much more:https://t.co/ZFdU5BVC8H
— Emily Baker-White (@ebakerwhite) December 22, 2022
TikTok previously pledged to spend $1.5 billion storing Americans’ data in the U.S. with an American team overseen by the U.S. government in order to allow its continued ownership by ByteDance, but ByteDance’s admission that its employees surveilled American journalists contradicted promises it had made to the government as part of that plan, according to Forbes. TikTok is considering cutting ties with ByteDance over national security concerns about its ties with the Chinese Communist Party in order to continue operating in the U.S.
TikTok, ByteDance, the FBI, the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District for Virginia did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
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