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TikTok parent company admits accessing journalists’ data – POLITICO

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has accessed data from two journalists and other users in a bid to track the company’s leaks in revelations that will likely escalate security concerns in the West over Chinese ownership of the device. popular video app.

According to an internal investigation, ByteDance employees in China and the United States improperly extracted data, including IP addresses – which reveal a person’s general location – from journalists at BuzzFeed News and the Financial Times and people they had connected with through TikTok. ByteDance had unsuccessfully attempted to identify staff who had shared internal company documents with reporters.

The news comes as the US Congress is expected to vote this week to ban TikTok from US federal government phones over fears for privacy and national security. Europeans are also increasingly worried about this affair.

“We expect clear explanations and irrevocable commitments from TikTok,” tweeted Jean-Noël Barrot, French digital minister today. “France and Europe will never compromise on freedom of the press.”

The investigation by an outside law firm was revealed in emails that ByteDance general counsel Erich Andersen sent to employees on Thursday and were shared with media outlets including the New York Times on Thursday. This followed previous reports alleging the company harvested data from US users, including their location, phone numbers and birthdays.

ByteDance said on Thursday it laid off all four employees and restructured its audit and risk management team, according to The Washington Post.

The Chinese company is negotiating separately with CFIUS, a US body that conducts national security reviews of foreign companies’ agreements, to determine whether it can remain operational in the country via divestments to a US-based company. .

In Europe, the first results of an investigation into TikTok’s transfers of millions of data from Europeans to China by the Irish privacy regulator are expected in early 2023. The Irish Data Protection Commission is responsible TikTok’s compliance with EU privacy rules, the General Data Protection Regulation.

TikTok’s European privacy manager, Elaine Fox, admitted in November that Europeans’ data is accessed by employees in China. Information from European TikTok users is, she said, stored in the United States and Singapore.

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