U.S. Taking TikTok to Court for Spying on Americans

A gavel on a judge's bench.

Mr. O’Halloran was back in a Shanghai court on March 1. (Image: Daniel_B_photos via Pixabay)

Recently, a U.S. district court slapped a sizable lawsuit on TikTok, the popular social media news app company. The company was charged for violating the privacy and personal data of its users. Its parent company is Beijing ByteDance Technology Co., although the software is not available in China. The video app has become a fashionable entertainment app among teens and young adults the world over.

Class-action lawsuit

A class-action lawsuit was initiated against TikTok for pre-installing “Chinese surveillance software.” The lawsuit states: “TikTok clandestinely has vacuumed up and transferred to servers in China vast quantities of private and personally-identifiable user data that can be employed to identify, profile, and track the location and activities of users in the United States now and in the future.

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

Receive selected content straight into your inbox.

TikTok also has surreptitiously taken user content, such as draft videos never intended for publication, without user knowledge or consent. In short, TikTok’s lighthearted fun comes at a heavy cost.”

Stolen information

It started when a college student and resident of Palo Alto, California, downloaded the TikTok app in early 2019. But she didn’t create an account. The student discovered that the company had automatically created an account for her, without her consent. It generated a file containing her private information, including biological data. Information gathered from videos she created, but that she didn’t post, were all contained within the filing system.

TikTok transferred the user data to two servers in China.
TikTok transferred the user data to two servers in China. (Image: via Pixabay)

According to archives, TikTok transferred the user data to two servers in China — bugly.qq.com and umeng.com — in April 2019. Bugly is owned by one of China’s most influential mobile software companies, Tencent. It also owns the social network WeChat and Umeng is also part of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. The lawsuit claimed that the source code from Chinese tech giant Baidu is embedded within the TikTok app. The company has denied the allegations.

Indian government calls for a ban on TikTok

Last year, TikTok was banned by the Madras High Court, India, which was then later lifted. Now, with the CCP virus spreading like wildfire across the globe, the Indian government has taken up the initiative again to ban the company. More than 10,000 tweets have been received in support of the ban in less than 10 hours.

Directors of BJP’s (Bharatiya Janata Party — the ruling party) Information Technology department and individuals within the Publicity Strategist Department in the Uttar Pradesh government have also demanded a TikTok ban. Uttar Pradesh is one of the larger states in India, with over 200 million people.

Advocate Varsha Madhukar announced that TikTok is on the government’s radar since it posed a significant security risk. He said: “Our important data is going to China, which has increased the risk of cybercrime.” Renu Mathur, a well-known social activist expressed that because of TikTok, “our children are accessing pornography and are getting involved in communal violence and religious hatred.”

In April last year, U.S. Republican Senator Josh Howley submitted a bill in the Senate to ban all federal government devices from using the Chinese social media app.

Freedom of speech 

Moreover, TikTok was forced to publicly apologize for removing a video about the treatment of Muslims in China. The company is notorious for suppressing freedom of speech and actively bans religious minorities from its platform.

TikTok is notorious for suppressing freedom of speech.
The company is notorious for suppressing freedom of speech. (Image: via Wikimedia Commons)

Posts promoting Falun Gong, a Buddhist qigong practice, is a violation of terms because the practice is, according to TikTok, an evil cult. This is parroting the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) line regarding Falun Gong, which the Party has tried to wipe out from China since 1999.

The app responded as to whether it supports the CCP’s censorship of freedom of speech and belief by saying that it “would not do so if asked.”

Follow us on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest

Recommended Stories

Mr. Yang.

Successful Entrepreneurs in China Lose Everything on Trumped-Up Charges (Part 1)

Mr. Yang, one of China’s highly successful entrepreneurs now living in exile, recounted how he ...

A closeup view of jail cell iron bars casting shadows on the prison floor.

Successful Entrepreneurs in China Lose Everything Overnight on Trumped-Up Charges (Part 2)

Mr. Yang said persecuted entrepreneurs like him are too numerous in his home province and ...

Stir-fried pebbles.

Stir-Fried Pebbles: Chinese Vendors Are Making a Dish Made of Stones

Chinese street food vendors have amused the world by creating a unique cuisine; stir-fried pebbles, ...

Chinese painting of Kou Zhun, an official during the Northern Song Dynasty.

The Inspirational Story of Kou Zhun’s Mother: A Lesson in Moral Education

China, with its 5,000-year-old civilization, has always been recognized for the importance it places on ...

Man and woman in a heated argument.

Disagreeing Gracefully: How To Foster Understanding in a Polarized World

Most of us have found ourselves embroiled in a heated disagreement, feeling so hurt or ...

Exoplanet K2-18b.

Signs of Life? Why Astronomers Are Excited About Carbon Dioxide and Methane in the Atmosphere of an Alien World

Are we alone? This question is nearly as old as humanity itself. Today, this question ...

The tower in Kaiyuan Temple with cherry blossoms.

Historical Tale From China: Murong Yanchao Outsmarts a Swindler

During the Later Han Dynasty (947-950), Yunzhou’s leading commander, Murong Yanchao, was celebrated for his ...

A basket of eggs.

Reviving the Simple Long-Lost Art of Roasting Eggs

Roasting eggs is probably the most ancient way of cooking eggs. About 1 million years ...

A polar ring galaxy.

Astronomers Have Discovered a Rare ‘Polar Ring Galaxy’ Wrapped in a Huge Ribbon of Hydrogen

A galaxy can come in many shapes and sizes, from giant, slowly rotating ovals and ...

Send this to a friend