The justice department is investigating the surveillance of American citizens, including several journalists who cover the tech industry, by the Chinese company that owns TikTok, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The investigation, which began late last year, appears to be tied to the admission in December by the company, ByteDance, that its employees had inappropriately obtained the data of American TikTok users, including that of two reporters and a few of their associates.
The department’s criminal division, the FBI and the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia are investigating ByteDance, which is based in Beijing and has close ties with China’s government, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
A justice department spokesman had no comment. Confirmation of the investigation comes as the White House hardens its stance towards forcing the company to address national security concerns about TikTok.
They include fears that China might be using the popular video service to gather data about or spy on Americans, undermine democratic institutions and foster internet addictions among young people.
New York Times News Service