According to materials reviewed by Forbes, a China-based short video platform company and TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance planned to use the platform to access and monitor the location of specific American natives.
ByteDance’s Internal Audit and Risk Control department team are behind its monitoring project which is led by Song Ye who is a Beijing-based executive who reports directly to ByteDance Cofounder and CEO Rubo Liang.
TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan said that TikTok collects approximate location information based on users’ IP addresses to “among other things, help show relevant content and ads to users, comply with applicable laws, and detect and prevent fraud and inauthentic behavior.”
But as per reviewed material by Forbes, it indicates that ByteDance’s Internal Audit team was planning to use this location information to observe American individuals not to use this data to target ads or anything like that but something else. The nature and purpose of accessing location data are not yet released by Forbes to protect the sources.
TikTok and its parent company did not comment on the question asked about whether the internal audit has especially targeted any members of the US government, activists, public figures, or journalists or not.
“Like most companies our size, we have an internal audit function responsible for objectively auditing and evaluating the company and our employees’ adherence to our codes of conduct,” said ByteDance spokesperson Jennifer Banks in a statement. “This team provides its recommendations to the leadership team.”
Tiktok may sign a contract with the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) that looks after the national security risk imposed by foreign companies. The committee has been investigating whether the company’s Chinese ownership could enable the Chinese government to access personal information about the users of TikTok in the US.
In September, an executive order enumerating specific risks was signed by President Biden that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ( CFIUS) should examine when assessing companies of foreign ownership. The order, which declares that it intends to “emphasize . . . the risks presented by foreign adversaries’ access to data of United States persons,” focuses specifically on foreign companies’ potential use of data “for the surveillance, tracing, tracking, and targeting of individuals or groups of individuals, with potential adverse impacts on national security.”
The treasury department did not comment on the matter.
TikTok, too, did not respond to questions from Forbes about the position of the company’s negotiations with CFIUS. But in a statement to Bloomberg published early this morning, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter said: “We are confident that we are on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns.”