By: Jason Cohen, Daily Caller News Foundation
A former high-ranking employee of ByteDance, the parent company of video platform TikTok, alleged that a group of members within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had special credentials to access U.S. user data, according to a legal filing, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Former executive Yu Yintao alleged that CCP committee members targeted Hong Kong civil rights activists and protesters in 2018, obtaining TikTok data containing network information, SIM card identification and IP addresses to track and identify them, according to the filing, the WSJ reported. Moreover, CCP members inside ByteDance had access to a “superuser” credential or “god credential” to see every piece of information the company received, and had a “backdoor channel” to obtain U.S. user information.
These allegations arose as part of a recent submission in a wrongful termination lawsuit Yu filed in May in San Francisco Superior Court, according to the WSJ. Yu, a California resident, was head of engineering for ByteDance from August 2017 to November 2018 and was based at ByteDance’s Menlo Park, California, office and worked at the company’s Los Angeles and Beijing offices, according to the WSJ.
“I have seen no evidence that the Chinese government has access to that data,” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in his March testimony. “They have never asked us. We have not provided.”
Yu’s lawyer Charles Jung, a partner at law firm Nassiri & Jung, told the WSJ that Yu was inspired to reveal the allegations because he viewed Chew’s testimony as deceptive.
“My client is placing himself at risk by telling his story in court,” Jung said. “But the truth is powerful, and telling the truth is what’s needed to bring social change.”
“We plan to vigorously oppose what we believe are baseless claims and allegations in this complaint,” a ByteDance spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Mr. Yu worked for ByteDance Inc. for less than a year and his employment ended in July 2018. During his brief time at the company, he worked on an app called Flipagram, which was discontinued years ago for business reasons.”
“It’s curious that Mr. Yu has never raised these allegations in the five years since his employment for Flipagram was terminated in July 2018,” the spokesperson added. “His actions are clearly intended to garner media attention.”