Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Lawsuit Claims China Used TikTok to Spy on Hong Kong Activists

TikTok Photo

In 2018, China’s Communist Party (CCP) used a “god credential” to watch and track Hong Kong activists and protesters, a former ByteDance employee said in a lawsuit. This “god credential” lets the CCP access user data collected by ByteDance, which owns TikTok.

In a court filing, Yintao “Roger” Yu, a former head of engineering at ByteDance in the United States, said that a special committee in Beijing had a backdoor to defenses built by ByteDance to protect user data and used this access to spy on users in Hong Kong.

“The device identifiers of protesters, supporters, and civil rights activists were tracked, along with their network information, SIM card IDs, and IP addresses,” Yu said in a filing that was sent to a San Francisco court this week.

“This information was used to find out who the people were and where they were. The TikTok app saves all of the users’ direct messages, search histories, material they’ve watched, and how long they watched it for. From the logs, I could see that the Committee had access to the unique user data, locations, and communications of protesters, civil rights leaders, and supporters.

In the filing, Yu said that ByteDance execs are well aware that the “god credential” exists, which goes against promises they have made to lawmakers in the US and other countries who are debating whether or not to ban TikTok for national security reasons.

Yu’s claims are part of a lawsuit against ByteDance for wrongful termination. The former executive said in a court filing in May that the backdoor “lets certain high-level persons access user data, no matter where the data is located, even if it’s hosted by a US company with servers in the US.”

Yu also said that he saw ByteDance use TikTok to further the CCP’s political goals. According to the filing, ByteDance promoted content “that expressed hatred for Japan” and demoted content that supported Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement democracy protests.

The filing also says that ByteDance took data from its own website and those of rivals like Instagram and Snapchat without permission.

Yu is suing ByteDance because he says the company fired him for complaining about illegal behavior at the company, which is against whistleblower rights, and because of his disability-related medical leave, which was treated unfairly.

ByteDance, whose main office is in Beijing, said Wednesday that the lawsuit’s claims were not true.

“It’s strange that Mr. Yu hasn’t said anything about these claims in the five years since Flipagram fired him in July 2018. “It’s clear that what he’s doing is meant to get attention from the media,” a spokesman said in a statement to Al Jazeera.

“We are going to fight hard against what we think are false accusations and claims in this lawsuit. Mr. Yu worked for ByteDance Inc. for less than a year, until July 2018, when his job finished. During the short time he worked for the company, he helped make an app called Flipagram, which was taken off the market years ago for business reasons.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Related Articles

Top Trending

Stelle Ciccone
The Inspiring Journey of Stelle Ciccone: Madonna's Adopted Daughter
Hailey Bieber Justin 30th Birthday Tribute
Hailey Bieber's Sweet 30th Birthday Tribute to Justin: 'Love of My Life, for Life'
Elon Musk Sues OpenAI Mission Betrayal
Elon Musk Takes Legal Action Against OpenAI for Mission 'Betrayal'
Spotify Epic Vs Apple DMA Compliance
Spotify & Epic Claim Apple's App Store Fails to Meet DMA Standards
Employee Appreciation Day
5 Innovative Ways to Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day That Your Team Will Love

LIFESTYLE

Taurine Key to Extending Life Research Finds
Taurine: The Secret Ingredient for a Longer Life? Latest Research Insights
Strategies to Beat Procrastination
Beat Procrastination: Effective Strategies to Stay Productive!
Egyptian Cotton Sheets for Your Bed
A Beginner's Guide to Choosing the Perfect Egyptian Cotton Sheets for Your Bed
Long Lehenga Choli
Elegance Redefined: Navigating the Diverse World of Long Lehenga Choli Designs
valentines day outfits
Top 20 Trendy Valentine's Day Outfits in 2024 For Every Occasion

Entertainment

Stelle Ciccone
The Inspiring Journey of Stelle Ciccone: Madonna's Adopted Daughter
Hailey Bieber Justin 30th Birthday Tribute
Hailey Bieber's Sweet 30th Birthday Tribute to Justin: 'Love of My Life, for Life'
apple tv plus march 2024
Exciting Lineup of New TV Shows and Movies to Watch on Apple TV Plus in March 2024
disney plus march 2024
New Releases on in March 2024: What to Watch on Disney Plus
max march 2024
Top Movies and Shows to Watch on Max in March 2024 [TV Guide]

GAMING

Nintendo lawsuit Rhode Island Game Piracy
Nintendo Takes Legal Action Against Rhode Island Company Over Game Piracy Claims
Best Online Pokies in Australia
The Best Online Pokies in Australia
Sports Betting vs Online Casinos
Sports Betting vs Online Casinos: Where is it Easier to Win?
Play Games for Bitcoin
Can You Play Games for Bitcoin? 
Most Played Games at Online Casinos
Discover the Most Played Games at Online Casinos

BUSINESS

Sam Altman OpenAI Investigation Investor Claims
OpenAI & Sam Altman Probe: Investor Mislead Claims Amidst Leadership Turmoil
Futures and Options
Evaluating the Safety of Investing in Futures and Options
Young Australians Money
Why Young Australians Need to Know About Money?
NPS Tier 1 vs Tier 2
NPS Tier 1 vs Tier 2: Understanding the Differences
Tips to Manage Your Small Business in 2024
5 Tips to Manage Your Small Business in 2024

TECHNOLOGY

Spotify Epic Vs Apple DMA Compliance
Spotify & Epic Claim Apple's App Store Fails to Meet DMA Standards
Technology Reshaping Share Market
How Technology is Reshaping the Share Market Investing Landscape?
Integra Sources
Integra Sources: Custom Project Development Services
Sam Altman OpenAI Investigation Investor Claims
OpenAI & Sam Altman Probe: Investor Mislead Claims Amidst Leadership Turmoil
Nintendo lawsuit Rhode Island Game Piracy
Nintendo Takes Legal Action Against Rhode Island Company Over Game Piracy Claims

HEALTH

Norovirus Cases Surge US Northeast CDC Report
US Norovirus Surge: CDC Highlights Spike in Northeast Cases
Top Healthiest and Unhealthiest Countries
Top Healthiest and Unhealthiest Countries Globally - 2024 Rankings
Best Way to Prevent Gum Disease
What is the Best Way to Prevent Gum Disease?
Norovirus Outbreak Northeast CDC Data
Norovirus Outbreak Hits Northeast: Latest CDC Data Reveals Spread
Brain Stimulation RTMS vs DTMS
Decoding Brain Stimulation Therapies: RTMS vs DTMS Explained