An investigation in the U.S. shows that (personal) data collected from American TikTok users are (or at least were) accessible to TikTok’s parent company (ByteDance) in China. Various audio recordings show that employees of ByteDance in China had access to these data, although TikTok previously denied this. According to TikTok, the data collected by TikTok in the U.S. would not leave the country, but this now appeared to be the case. TikTok has confirmed in a letter to U.S. senators that ByteDance in China indeed had access to these data.
The data include both the personal data of American users, such as their phone number and date of birth, as well as the videos they upload or watch. This raises the possibility that the Chinese government has gained access to American users’ sensitive information, which is of course completely undesirable. Whether the data of TikTok users in Europe are also accessible in China is still unclear, but in one of the audio recordings it is said that “everything is seen in China“.
TBYP has stated in its writ of summons that TikTok is improperly transferring personal data to third countries, including China. This alarming investigation shows that TBYP’s concerns are still relevant.