Tech

A TikTok whistleblower came to DC’s attention. Is his statement true?


Although he does not hold a senior position, Goziker claimed that his main job at TikTok was to “oversee” the Texas program to ensure that the social media app’s plan to protect U.S. user data was effective. The goal is to implement a set of safeguards to satisfy the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency agency charged with assessing national security risks associated with foreign companies acquiring or holding major equity interests in U.S. companies. CFIUS, which has the power to force companies to cancel deals it deems risky, has been investigating ByteDance since 2019 over its 2017 acquisition of a lip-syncing app called Musical.ly that was later folded into TikTok.

Court documents show that Gozik claimed that he interviewed more than three dozen people at TikTok and ByteDance about Project Texas. He said he discovered flaws in the plan that led him to refuse to “sign off” on it despite alleged pressure from him. Court records show Goziker tried to express his concerns to TikTok’s top leadership, including its CEO and board of directors. worries.

Goziker claimed in court documents that he found evidence that TikTok’s software could send data to China in January 2022, just weeks before he was fired. He claimed in the filing that through “collaboration and deliberate joint efforts with ByteDance engineers in mainland China,” he obtained “proven artifacts” in TikTok software that connected the platform to Toutiao, the word A popular Chinese news aggregation app owned by JD.com. Goziker said his findings showed that U.S. data from TikTok could still be flowing to the People’s Republic of China, despite TikTok’s claims to the contrary. The document contains no detailed documentary evidence of his accusations.

March last year Gozik’s claims appeared two weeks later Washington postTikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew appear before congress and has been questioned over its app’s links to China.Later, U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat, and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican, sent question Notify TikTok of the postal story.

TikTok responded that many of the accusations in the article were baseless and said that references to Toutiao in TikTok’s code “do not in any way indicate an association, integration, or network connection between Toutiao and TikTok,” adding that “once De Once the Texas plan is completed, the Toutiao app will not be able to interfere with TikTok’s data flow.”

In lawsuits and email records reviewed by WIRED, Goziker revealed that he was also in contact with a Forbes reporter who has written many influential stories about TikTok’s data security practices and linked to ByteDance. In June 2022, when the reporter worked at BuzzFeed News, they published article According to reports, 9 different employees issued statements in 80 internal meetings at TikTok, “indicating that engineers in China could access U.S. data from September 2021 to January 2022.”

Gorzik claimed to Wired that he was the source of the recordings. Forbes told Wired it does not comment on sources.

Senator Warner and Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the vice chairman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee, later cited the BuzzFeed report in a letter urging the FTC to open an investigation into TikTok. Politico reported this month that the agency listened to that call It also launched an investigation into whether the app “deceives users by denying Chinese individuals the right to access their data.”

When Goziker filed his lawsuit, U.S. lawmakers were closer than ever to banning the app. approve a bill Last month, it was announced that this would force ByteDance to sell TikTok within six months before the app would become illegal to download from U.S. app stores. The legislation is currently before the Senate, and President Joe Biden has said he will sign the bill into law.

Update April 4, 2024, 6:15 pm ET: The House of Representatives passed a bill forcing ByteDance to sell TikTok by an absolute majority, but not unanimously.



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