BitDance accused of helping China spy on Hong Kong activists
The owner of TikTok, BitDance, has been accused of allowing members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to access the data of civil rights activists and protesters in Hong Kong, the BBC reports.
Users who uploaded "protest-related content" were also identified and tracked, the company's former CEO, Jintao Yu, claimed in a US court filing.
CCP members were also able to access US TikTok user data, Yu said. A spokesperson for BitDance denied the claims, describing them as "baseless".
The allegations are contained in a San Francisco Superior Court filing filed this week as part of a lawsuit filed by Yu.
In the filing, Yu claimed that CCP committee members had access to a "superuser" credential, also known as a "god user," that allowed them to view all data collected by BitDance.
He also claimed that the committee members were not employed by BitDance, but were physically present at the company's offices in Beijing.
The filing also alleges that in 2018, CCP committee members used their "divine credential" to "identify and locate Hong Kong protesters, civil rights activists and protest supporters."
In Hong Kong in 2014 there were huge protests – the so-called Umbrella Movement – where people demanded the right to choose their own leader. After that, there were smaller demonstrations by civil rights activists. Most of this visible dissent has disappeared since Beijing toppled it with a draconian national security law following anti-government protests in 2019.