TIKTOK Meeting Audio Leaks, is it true that China Can Access US User Data

The US government's concern that China could access TikTok users was finally answered. According to a New York Post report, a leaked recording of an internal meeting held by the social media app's parent company confirms this.

The footage reveals that employees of TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, based in China repeatedly accessed data related to US users. The footage raises new suspicions about TikTok, which was previously almost blocked in the US due to privacy concerns.

Chinese employees are noted to be able to access this information from at least September 2021 to January 2022.

BuzzFeed reports that audio clips from dozens of meetings show 14 statements from nine TikTok employees saying ByteDance officials in China could access non-public US user data. This report cites source material from more than 80 meetings.

The leaked footage took everyone by surprise. Moreover, it also reveals the ability of Beijing-based ByteDance to access US user data. In fact, they supposedly could go further than previously feared.

One TikTok director stated at the September 2021 meeting, that an unnamed engineer in China is a “Master Admin” who “has access to everything.”

In a separate meeting that same month, a member of TikTok's Trust and Security Department said that "everything is visible in China."

BuzzFeed said the recordings were made at TikTok meetings ranging from closed-door talks between company executives to public presentations.

TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms, especially among children, teenagers and adults. The short video platform has more than 1 billion active users worldwide.

"We know we are one of the most scrutinized platforms from a security point of view, and we aim to clear any doubts about the security of US user data," TikTok spokeswoman Maureen Shanahan said in a statement to BuzzFeed.

"That's why we employ experts in their fields, continue to work to validate our security standards, and bring in independent and reputable third parties to test our defenses," the spokesperson added.

TikTok explained its position in a separate statement to The Post.

“As we have publicly stated, we have brought in world-class internal and external security experts to help us strengthen our data security efforts,” said a TikTok spokesperson. “This is standard industry practice given the complexity of data security challenges.

"In May 2022, we created a new internal department, US Data Security (USDS), with US-based leadership, to provide a greater level of focus and governance on US data security," the spokesperson added.

“The creation of this organization is part of our ongoing efforts and commitment to strengthen our data protection policies and protocols, better protect our users, and build trust in our systems and controls.”

TikTok attempted to address concerns about user security in a post shortly before the BuzzFeed report was published. The post reveals that TikTok has moved US user data to servers run by technology company Oracle.

Last year, President Donald Trump's administration raised concerns that the Chinese Community Party could gain access to the personal data of US users.

Trump officials argue that parent company ByteDance has direct ties to officials in Beijing and poses a national security risk.

Trump is trying to force ByteDance to sell TikTok as well as outright ban users from downloading the social media app on executive order. But unfortunately, the last attempt was rejected by a US federal judge.

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