TikTok Under Federal Criminal Investigation For Spying On American Citizens

TikTok Under Federal Criminal Investigation For Spying On Americas People

TikTok Under Federal Criminal Investigation For Spying On American Citizens. The FBI and the Department of Justice are looking into the circumstances that prompted TikTok’s Chinese parent firm, ByteDance, to use the app to spy on American Citizens.

The US lawmakers announced bipartisan legislation earlier this month that would enable the US to ban the app. The Biden administration has stated that it supports the legislation.

According to Forbes, the FBI, the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, and the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia launched a criminal investigation into TikTok’s spying on American journalists.

Why TikTok Under Federal Criminal Investigation?

It emerged that ByteDance’s workers utilize the TikTok app to access US journalists’ location data or other personal information.

TikTok Under Federal Criminal Investigation For Spying On American Citizens

According to Forbes, two sources have stated that the FBI has reportedly been interviewing people regarding spying. Forbes published the first revelation about ByteDance using the software to spy on Americans in October, and an internal company investigation into ByteDance confirmed the allegation in December.

ByteDance Representative Jennifer Banks claimed she strongly condemned the behavior of the individuals engaged in this issue and fired them from ByteDance.

She also stated that the company’s internal investigation is ongoing and assured that the company would assist with any outside investigations if requested. TikTok refused to comment on this issue when requested.

Since a few years ago, CFIUS has tried to negotiate a national security agreement with TikTok to ease worries that the Chinese government would use it to gain access to vital private information about American residents or influence American public debate.

Later, The Biden administration demanded the ByteDance company sell its vertical video software and threatened a ban in the United States.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday, ByteDance was recently ordered to sell the platform by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a board of nine cabinet-level officials that evaluates the effects of foreign investments on national security.

The selling demand proved to be a severe setback for TikTok, which had pledged to invest $1.5 billion in a series of data storage measures known as Project Texas in the hopes that ByteDance would be able to retain ownership of TikTok.

Project Texas would require TikTok to store user data from American users on domestic servers run by a team based in the United States and subject to government regulation. But, ByteDance’s admission that it had spied on journalists appeared to go against the assurances it had given to the American authorities as part of the proposal.

TikTok Under Federal Criminal Investigation For Spying On American Citizens

The request also comes amid growing anxiety on Capitol Hill regarding TikTok. Last Monday, a group of 12 more senators presented a bill to make it simpler for President Biden to enact a ban. The White House supported the bill and urged Congress to “act quickly” to pass it.

In 2021 TikTok started working on Project Texas in response to worries that the Trump Administration initially voiced. The project was kept secret until BuzzFeed News made it public in early 2022.

It became the focus of the regulatory investigation after the same publication obtained leaked audio proving that ByteDance employees in China had routinely assessed US TikTok user data.

Forbes later discovered in December 2022 that Chinese state media had attacked specific lawmakers ahead of the midterm elections using TikTok accounts. Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, expressed alarm the same week that the Chinese government would exploit TikTok for propaganda.

During a meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee, FBI Director Chris Wray shocked American senators by disclosing the advantages the app provides communist China.

In reply to a question from ranking member Marco Rubio, Wray stated that communist China could utilize TikTok to control data on millions of users, to control the software on millions of devices and that they can use it to fuel narratives that divide Americans against one another.

Then, Wray cautioned how China could utilize TikTok to influence narratives in the U.S. Rubio brought out the contrasts between how TikTok users in China and those in the United States view the platform.

Wray then agreed with Rubio’s opinion that one of the numerous ways China uses the app to weaken and harm the US is by putting “poison” into the feeds of American users.

This issue has escalated and is proven to be an alarming factor for Americans. They are currently trying to take this issue under control by various methods and to safeguard their citizens’ privacy.

About the author

Nancy Beverly

Nancy Beverly is a prominent political journalist and editor at World-Wire, known for her sharp analysis and deep understanding of global politics. With a Master's degree in Political Science, she excels in breaking down complex political issues, making them relatable to the public. At World-Wire, Nancy crafts compelling political narratives covering everything from local governance to international relations. Recognized for her expertise, she received the 'Excellence in Political Journalism' award in 2021. Nancy's work not only informs but also enriches her readers' understanding of political dynamics.

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