ByteDance, the owner of the TikTok app, intended to track the locations of American citizens via the TikTok app.
Forbes, citing the material it reviewed, reported that a China-based team from ByteDance’s Internal Audit and Risk Control planned to collect location data of a U.S. citizen who has never worked for the company.
Forbes said that it was not clear how the company collected the data, but a Beijing-based team planned to collect location data from devices of American users.
A TikTok spokesperson explained that location data is collected and other data to help the firm display relevant content and ads to users and identify and prevent possible fraud.
But Forbes said the material it reviewed shows that the Internal Audit team from ByteDance planned to use the location information it gathers to monitor individual American citizens and not to target ads or other purposes.
After the article was published, TikTok criticized the newspaper, claiming it lacks “both rigor and journalistic integrity.” In addition, TikTok said it “does not collect precise GPS location information from U.S. users, meaning TikTok could not monitor U.S. users in the way the article suggested.”
In response, a Forbes spokesperson said: “We are confident in our sourcing, and we stand by our reporting.”
In June, BuzzFeed reported that ByteDance employees in China had repeatedly accessed U.S. user data.
Following BuzzFeed’s report, the Senate Intelligence Committee started investigating the allegation. As a result, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew admitted in a letter to lawmakers that “employees outside the U.S., including China-based employees, can have access to TikTok’s U.S. user data subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S.-based security team.”
In an interview with The Epoch Times, former Chief Software Officer of the U.S. Air Force and Space Force said that the Chinese regime seeks to use TikTok data against Americans.