Tiktok has been criticized for its extreme thirst for data. In the USA, the authorities are now apparently even investigating the operator Bytedance. The accusation: the app is said to have spied on users on behalf of China.

Quick shopping tips, cooking instructions and lots of memes: Tiktok has long since blossomed into the most important everyday app for younger generations. There are good reasons to be skeptical about the enormous thirst for data. While a ban on the app seems possible in the USA, it is now known that the Department of Justice and the FBI have also targeted the app.

This is reported by “Forbes”, citing inside sources. Accordingly, the company is suspected of having monitored users of the platform on behalf of the Chinese state. It has already been confirmed that this happened. The authorities now want to find out whether it is the act of individual employees or whether there is a system behind it.

Monitoring on behalf of China

As “Forbes” reports, the US Department of Justice is said to have initiated an investigation against the company as a result of the surveillance action. According to this, the senior public prosecutor’s office requested inspection of documents in order to be able to investigate the processes. The Federal Police FBI has therefore summoned and questioned several employees of the company. However, both authorities did not want to confirm the investigation on request.

Specifically, it is about a case that became known in the fall. Tiktok employees used the location data collected by the app to monitor the movements of several American journalists. They had reported critically about the app and its connections to the Chinese government. Bytedance, the operator of the hype app, is a Chinese company.

In fact, the company has also confirmed this monitoring; according to Bytedance, the processes had previously been investigated internally. However, the company emphasizes that these are violations by individual employees, who have since been dismissed for this reason. “We condemn these actions by the individuals involved, they are no longer employed by Bytedance,” the company said in a statement in October. “We are cooperating with any official investigation.”

Ban not ruled out

The fact that Bytedance is being targeted by the US government is not in itself a new development. The Trump administration had already taken massive action against Tiktok due to allegations of espionage, and the use of all official cell phones was banned. Bytedance had made numerous concessions and started processing US user data only within national borders. As the surveillance campaign shows, however, this does not fully protect the Chinese authorities from accessing the data.

The investigations that have now become known also put the latest developments regarding Tiktoks in a clearer light. In recent weeks, calls for a complete ban on the app have gained momentum again. Most recently, President Joe Biden demanded that Bytedance be completely bought out of the app this week. If the company does not sell its shares in the app, a nationwide ban on the app in the United States could not be ruled out.

Sources: Forbes, Wall Street Journal