ByteDance has once again found itself mired in another lawsuit, and this time it is coming from a former employee. Yintao “Roger” Yu was a former executive for the company, is taking his former employer to court in the US, claiming that he was wrongly fired after complaining to his supervisors about “brazenly unlawful conduct” within the company.
Yu says that ByteDance practically stole content from rivals in order to drum up its presence on TikTok early on but more insidious is his claim that the company also gave the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) what he believes was “supreme access” to all of its data via a backdoor channel. A channel Yu says persisted even after data from US users had been walled off.
Yu also says that a special government-controlled committee existed within ByteDance – they weren’t even part of the parent company – and that it had a significant role in sifting through TikTok data. “The Committee maintained supreme access to all the company data, even data stored in the United States,” according to the suit. “After receiving criticism about access from abroad, individual engineers in China were restricted from accessing U.S. user data, but the Committee continued to have access.”
It is no secret that ByteDance and its social media platform, TikTok, has come under heavy fire from the US over the last several years, primarily over national security concerns, as well as one power-draining issue in Norway. When the company came under fire from the Trump administration back in 2020, it was forced to sell the US portion of its business – an ultimatum that was also echoed by the current Biden administration – or get banned in the US. The social media platform did eventually comply and decided to sell it to Oracle, after a punch-up with Microsoft.
In response to Yu’s lawsuit, ByteDance has unsurprisingly called the allegations baseless and says that it will “vigorously” fight the suit.
(Source: Engadget, Fortune, Hot Hardware)
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