By Jason Cohen
A former employee is alleging TikTok has flaws with its data security and he has been meeting with lawmakers to discuss it, according to The Washington Post.
The former employee was a risk manager for the massively popular social media app and shared worries regarding their strategy for safeguarding U.S. user data, according to the Post. TikTok disputes this, but the former employee has met with congressional investigators to discuss evidence while lawmakers are currently contemplating a nationwide ban.
Most recently, on March 7, senators unveiled a bipartisan bill granting President Joe Biden the ability to ban TikTok. But the company has been under scrutiny for years since the Trump administration attempted to ban the app, according to Politico.
The Post exclusively interviewed the former employee, who spent six months working in TikTok’s Trust and Safety Division until early 2022. He stated the company’s data security flaws could leave over 100 million American TikTok users vulnerable to employees based in China who work for Bytedance, which is TikTok’s parent company.
TikTok is rushing to enact updated safety regulations to protect American users’ data from the Chinese government as part of a $1.5 billion restructuring plan known as Project Texas, according to The Post. The company has been promoting the project around Washington, but the former employee’s allegations threaten it.
His allegations may also lead people to question whether the short-video app is at risk of having its video-recommendation algorithm and user data manipulated “for propaganda or espionage.” However, U.S. authorities have yet to release evidence that the Chinese government has accessed TikTok’s data or code, according to the Post.
The former employee told congressional investigators that Project Texas will not be sufficient and that it will take a “complete re-engineering” of how TikTok works to solve the data security issues, according to the Post.
“Anyone who left the company in February of 2022 would have no knowledge of the current status of Project Texas and the many significant milestones the initiative has reached over the last year in our efforts to further safeguard our community and our platform in the United States,” Brooke Oberwetter, head of policy communications for TikTok, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. She sent the DCNF a list of TikTok data-security initiatives announced since the employee departed, including the creation of the TikTok US Data Security team in May 2022.
ByteDance employees have allegedly accessed U.S. user data and surveilled American citizens including a journalist for Forbes named Emily Baker-White following her publication of stories criticizing the company.
This article has been updated with comment from TikTok.
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