TikTok, and its parent company ByteDance, is controlled by communist China. Now, these companies are reportedly under federal criminal investigation for surveilling U.S. citizens.
This report comes just as Washington D.C. lawmakers released bipartisan legislation that allows America to ban the social media app. The White House administration has said that it supports the new legislation.
According to Forbes, it was reported that the FBI, Department of Justice Criminal Division, Fraud Section, and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia opened a criminal investigation over TikTok’s spying on American journalists.
ByteDance has been subpoenaed by U.S. prosecutors for their “efforts by its employees to access U.S. journalists’ location information or other private user data using the TikTok app.”
Erich Andersen, the General Counsel for TikTok, wrote in an internal email that “in this case individuals misused their authority to obtain access to TikTok user data.”
ByteDance spokesperson Jennifer Banks confirmed to the publication that the spying did occur. “We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance,” she said. “Our internal investigation is still ongoing, and we will cooperate with any official investigations when brought to us.”
President Biden demanded this week that ByteDance sell the vertical video application or face an outright ban in the United States.
FBI Director Chris Wray shocked U.S. senators last week during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing when he made known the capabilities that the app gives communist China.
Wray said that communist China can use TikTok to control data on millions of users, they can also control the software on millions of devices, and they can use it to pit Americans against each other.
“And I think the most fundamental piece that cuts across every one of those risks and threats that you mentioned that I think Americans need to understand is that something that’s very sacred in our country, that difference between the private sector and the public sector, that’s a line that is non-existent in the way that CCP operates,” Wray said.