A former TikTok employee told congressional investigators and the Washington Post that the company has serious issues with data security. Congress is considering a national ban on the wildly popular Chinese video-sharing app.
The Post reported the former employee was a risk manager for the company’s Trust and Safety division through early 2022. He voiced his concerns over the handling of Americans’ user data even as the company frantically tries to convince U.S. lawmakers of its safety.
There are over 100 million TikTok users in the U.S. alone.
The former employee revealed that user data is currently exposed to parent company ByteDance, which critics charge is closely aligned with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
A former TikTok employee tells Congress the app is lying about Chinese spying https://t.co/ncL1z73Le6
— Adam Kinzinger #fella (@AdamKinzinger) March 10, 2023
His revelations counter claims by the company, which has embarked on a $1.5 billion restructuring known as Project Texas. TikTok executives are scouring Washington, hyping this effort as the cure to neutralize user exposure to Beijing.
Their effort to sway U.S. critics began in 2019 with negotiations with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. A proposal was finalized in August but it has yet to be approved.
The former employee asked for anonymity out of fear of retaliation. The Post reported he told congressional investigators that Project Texas does not change TikTok’s workings enough to ensure digital safety.
In fact, he declared that a genuinely leak-proof platform would need a “complete re-engineering.”
He told the Post of code that could enable TikTok to connect with systems linked to Chinese news app Toutiao. This platform is also run by parent company ByteDance and could feasibly stream mounds of U.S. user data.
TikTok officials struck back at his claims. The company said that its former employee misrepresented its efforts to restructure the video-sharing platform and that, since being terminated, he is not privy to the progress and developments made by Project Texas.
Part of the company’s sales pitch is that they have moved U.S. user data to American tech industry leader Oracle. Their claim is that this marks a disconnect with Chinese government actors.
For its part, the Biden administration has been largely noncommittal on the controversial Chinese app. A national ban was attempted late in the administration of former President Donald Trump, but legal challenges halted the effort.