Monday, May 20, 2024

Ex-TikTok Employee Admits He Was Ordered to Send U.S. Data to China

'There were Americans [who] were working in upper management that were completely complicit in this...'

(Dmytro “Henry” AleksandrovHeadline USA) A former senior employee at TikTok revealed that he was ordered to send American user data to Beijing-based parent company ByteDance.

The information that was shared with the public by Fortune contradicts TikTok’s public claims of operating independently from China.

From April to September 2022, every two weeks TikTok had been telling Evan Turner, the company’s former senior data scientist, to send email spreadsheets containing millions of American users’ data to ByteDance employees in Beijing, including the users’ names, email addresses, IP addresses and demographics.

He also said that he “literally worked on a project that gave U.S. data to China” even though TikTok had launched Project Texas in March 2022, promising U.S. officials that it would stop sharing American user data with its ByteDance and keep the data in U.S.-based data centers.

“There were Americans [who] were working in upper management that were completely complicit in this,” Turner said.

While his supervisor was switched from a ByteDance executive in Beijing to an American manager in Seattle, a human resources representative told him he would still report to the Beijing-based ByteDance executive, Turner said, while adding that he never met with the American manager and continued to have weekly meetings with the ByteDance executive.

“Even though a spreadsheet is probably a very tiny percentage of all of the information that TikTok collects, it can be extremely targeted and very damaging to certain people. Everyone should be really concerned,” Anton Dahbura, executive director of the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, said.

In January 2024, U.S. lawmakers grilled TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew over his company’s alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party, after Joe Biden and Donald Trump voiced national security concerns and tried to restrict the video-sharing platform’s operations in the country, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

The House voted 352-65 last month to ban TikTok unless it is sold to a non-Chinese company, with Biden saying that he would sign the bill should it pass through the Senate.

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