It is not looking any good for TikTok; a new investigation showed that its parent company ByteDance had been spying on several American journalists. According to the Financial Times, ByteDance had access to commercially sensitive information as a result of its relationship with TikTok.
“Over the summer, four employees on the ByteDance internal audit team looked into the sharing of internal information to journalists. Two members of staff in the US and two in China gained access to the IP addresses and other personal data of FT journalist Cristina Criddle, to work out if she was in the proximity of any ByteDance employees, the company said.”
According to the reports, a BuzzFeed journalist and several users connected to the reporters through their TikTok accounts were also targeted in the ByteDance probe.
Regardless of how you view this, it is still a violation; and a significant one at that. It also runs contrary to what TikTok has been saying public, and all but confirms fears being expressed by the US government about the app and the security threat it poses.
TikTok and its parent company ByteDance are facing a legal hurdle as the US State of Indiana has sued the China-owned company for violating the state’s for failing to protect young users.
The State of Indiana alleges that TikTok fails to safeguard its young users and privacy; an allegation the company has denied.
The lawsuit was filed a couple of weeks ago, with the first one claiming that the app exposes young users to inappropriate content. The other complaint also filed by attorney Todd Rokita, alleged that TikTok does not disclose the Chinese government’s potential to gain access to sensitive consumer information.
“TikTok is a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” according to court documents.
“As long as TikTok is permitted to deceive and mislead Indiana consumers about the risks to their data, those consumers and their privacy are easy prey.”
According to the complaint, TikTok’s algorithm promotes a variety of inappropriate content, “depicting alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; sexual content, nudity, and suggestive themes; and intense profanity.”
The court document also claimed that the app deceives young users with age ratings of 12 and above on Apple and Google app stores. Indiana is seeking a court injunction against its practices and civil penalties against ByteDance for its “unfair and deceptive conduct.”