ByteDance denies tracking users' personal data for China
Published: Jun 07, 2023 08:59 PM Updated: Jun 07, 2023 08:50 PM

TikTok, ByteDance Photo: VCG

TikTok, ByteDance Photo: VCG

ByteDance told the Global Times on Wednesday that it vigorously opposed the baseless claims and allegations that accuse the company of helping the Chinese mainland track radical protesters in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

According to a Bloomberg report, Yintao “Roger” Yu, a former head of engineering in the US for ByteDance, said in a court filing that a special committee of the Chinese government installed at the company’s Beijing offices monitored all data on the platform, including that of users in the US.

ByteDance users who uploaded content of radical protests in Hong Kong were monitored by Chinese officials, Yu said in the filing.

Their device identifiers were tracked, as well as their network information, SIM card identifications, and IP addresses, Yu said

A ByteDance spokesperson told the Global Times in a statement on Wednesday that the company plans to vigorously oppose the baseless claims and allegations in this complaint.

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, according to the spokesperson.

"It's curious that Yu never raised these allegations in the five years since his employment at Flipagram was terminated in July 2018. His actions are clearly intended to garner media attention," the spokesperson said.  

ByteDance’s TikTok has already been under mounting pressure and scrutiny in US due to the so-called security concerns and allegation of its link with the Chinese government, although the company has said numerous times that it has never shared data with the Chinese government and would not do so if asked.

A number of US states banned using the app on government-issued devices after the FBI warned of possible threats to national security since at the end of last year.

In May, Montana became the first state to impose a total ban on the app, meaning that the general public can't have access to the platform.

Chinese authorities have repeatedly blasted the US' unreasonable crackdown on the Chinese app.

The US has failed to provide any evidence that TikTok poses a threat to US national security, and it should stop spreading misinformation and unreasonably suppressing relevant firms, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a briefing in March.