San Francisco, June 18 (IANS) China-based employees of internet giant ByteDance have repeatedly accessed data about US TikTok users, reports say.
According to BuzzFeed News, citing leaked audio from more than 80 internal TikTok (owned by ByteDance) meetings, engineers in China had access to US data between September 2021 and January 2022.
“US (TikTok) staff did not have permission or knowledge of how to access the data on their own,” according to the audio files.
“Everything is seen in China,” said a member of TikTok’s Trust and Safety department in a September 2021 meeting.
In another meeting, a TikTok director referred to one Beijing-based engineer as a “Master Admin” who “has access to everything”.
The audio tapes suggest that the company may have “misled lawmakers, its users, and the public by downplaying that data stored in the US could still be accessed by employees in China”.
A TikTok spokesperson said that the company aims to remove any doubt about the security of US user data.
“That’s why we hire experts in their fields, continually work to validate our security standards, and bring in reputable, independent third parties to test our defenses,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying in the report published on Friday.
In 2020, then US president Donald Trump threatened to ban TikTok over data privacy and security concerns that the Chinese government could use ByteDance to collect personal information of US users.
TikTok’s “data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information”, Trump wrote in an executive order.
TikTok on Friday said it has moved US users’ data to Oracle servers within the country.
In a blog post, the company said it has “changed the default storage location of US user data” to Oracle and that “100 per cent of US user traffic” is now hosted by the cloud provider.
India had banned the short-video making app, along with several other Chinese-owned apps, in 2020 citing national security concerns.