Former ByteDance Executive, Parent Company of TikTok, Says Chinese Communist Party Had Access to Hong Kong User Data

A former executive at ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, alleged in a court filing that the Chinese Communist Party had access to Hong Kong protestors’ data, according to The Wall Street Journal 

The allegations involve the CCP using a backdoor channel to view user data, even if it’s stored by an American company. The threat comes admits growing concerns about risks posed by the platform to both individual and national security. 

ByteDance Fired Their Executive After Speaking Out Against the CCP 

Yintao “Roger” Yu, who lead ByteDance’s US engineering division from 2017-2018, was fired for criticizing the CCP’s exploitation of user data, monitoring it directly from their headquarters in Beijing by members of the “committee.” 

Yu filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court Monday, specifically alleging the CCP cataloged the communication data, IP addresses, and SIM card IDs of Hong Kong protestors in 2018.  

The company called Yu’s claim baseless and without merit in the WSJ, noting he waited five years to file post-termination. 

Yu’s attorney responded by saying his decision to file came after TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before Congress earlier in the year. Chew previously denied to Congress that the CCP influenced the company, let alone was harvesting data.  

CCP Maintains an Extensive Network of Control Over The Network

According to the lawsuit, the CCP’s committee had absolute access to any data they wanted to observe; any engineer in the headquarters could also obtain the information at will. 

CCP engineers also could use killswitches, which would turn off the app entirely, hindering communication between parties they sought to silence. Yu said the CCP uses the platform purely as a propaganda tool.  

When the CCP received criticism regarding the observance network situation in Beijing, party heads simply moved the engineering to Singapore. Yu says this is nothing but a change in geography.   

This article appeared in The Political Globe and has been published here with permission.