Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok is being used to manipulate Americans with its data-gathering operations on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem revealed.
Noem signed an executive order, which took effect immediately, that prohibits state employees and contractors from accessing the app via state-owned devices.
“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of nations who hate us,” the state head said in a statement. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data of the devices that access the platform.” (Related: New research reveals social media sites like Meta, Instagram and Tiktok can monitor keystrokes to obtain private information.)
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020 and has been looked into because of possible access by the Chinese government to its user data like browsing history and location.
Earlier in the year, Buzzfeed reported the leaked audio files from 80 internal small-group TikTok meetings that showed U.S. user data has been repeatedly accessed from the north Asia communist country between September 2021 and January 2022, at the very least. Wisconsin Representative Mike Gallagher emphasized that ByteDance is controlled by the CCP.
“Everything is seen in China,” a member of the app’s Trust and Safety department said during the September 2021 meeting. In a separate meeting in the same month, a director referred to one Beijing-based engineer as a “Master Admin” who “has access to everything.”
“That means the CCP can track your location, it can track your keystrokes, it can censor your news – why would we give our foremost adversary that amount of power?” Gallagher said.
“Because of our serious duty to protect the private data of South Dakota citizens, we must take this action seriously,” Noem added. “I hope other states will follow South Dakota’s lead, and Congress should take broader actions, as well.”
Moreover, America’s armed forces followed suit and banned “tracking” app on military devices.
No guarantee on TikTok’s promise to heighten security for American users
Right after the controversial report by Buzzfeed News, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew assured Republican senators in a letter that they were working with Oracle to protect the data of its American users “with robust, independent oversight.”
The lawmakers, including Roger Wicker, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Commerce Committee wrote TikTok a letter following the said news article. In a reply obtained by the New York Times, Chew said they have advanced data security controls that they are hoping to finalize in the near future.
“That work puts us closer to the day when we will be able to pivot toward a novel and industry-leading system for protecting the data of our users in the United States, with robust, independent oversight to ensure compliance,” the app chief said.
But last month, Forbes found that an internal team at the company was planning to use location information gathered from U.S. users for surveillance purposes.
Back in August 2020, then-President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would have made it difficult, if not impossible, for the app to operate in the country. President Brandon rescinded the order in January 2021 but signed a separate one that required a security review of that app and WeChat. The following month, the Oracle and Walmart deal was reportedly put on hold indefinitely.
Computing.news has more on social media platforms that collect personal data without permission.
Watch the video below that talks about how TikTok transmits all data to China.
This video is from the Chinese taking down EVIL CCP channel on Brighteon.com.
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