Yintao Yu says he discovered shortly after being hired in California in the summer of 2017 that ByteDance was “stealing” videos posted on competing networks, putting them on its own services.
A former manager of ByteDance in the United States is suing his former employer, the parent company of TikTok, which he accuses of having dismissed him because he had given the alert on illegal practices of the company. Many American elected officials want to ban TikTok in the United States. They assure that the popular platform allows Beijing to collect user data without their knowledge and influence their opinion, which the application has always denied.
According to the lawsuit filed in a San Francisco court on May 1, Yintao Yu discovered shortly after being hired in California in the summer of 2017 that ByteDance “was flying» videos published on competing networks, Instagram and Snapchat, to put them on its own services. Yintao Yu, who was head of engineering for ByteDance in the United States, would then have alerted his superiors, in vain, “and intellectual property theft continued unhindered“. He was fired in November 2018.
On Friday, the plaintiff filed an amended lawsuit that accuses ByteDance of “serve as a propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party(CPC). Yintao Yu says he saw ByteDance highlight content “who expressed hatred for Japan“and relegate content”who expressed support for the protests in Hong Kongin favor of democracy. Above all, according to the ex-employee, the CCP “had supreme access to all company data at all times, including data stored in the United States».
“Unfounded accusations”, according to ByteDance
ByteDance account “fight vigorously” against “these baseless claims and accusations“Said a spokesperson for the company contacted by AFP. “Yintao Yu worked for ByteDance for less than a year (…) He was in charge of an app called Flipagram, which was taken off the market years ago for commercial reasons“, he added.
The engineer is asking for a court injunction to force the company to cease the practices mentioned in the complaint and for damages which he plans to pay a “substantial partto Asian American civil rights organizations. “My client is the most senior ByteDance official to speak publicly“said Charles Jung, his lawyer, to AFP on Saturday. “He worries about the protection of US users’ data, the app’s ethical behavior and the well-being of ByteDance employees.».
The subject of access to the personal information of American users has been a source of growing tension for years between the authorities and the company, which has taken several measures to ensure that this data is stored on servers in the United States. At the end of March, during a hearing in Congress, the boss of TikTok, Shou Chew, again claimed that Beijing did not have access to it. But several elected officials replied that they did not believe him. The White House recently pushed TikTok to get bought out by an American company so it could stay in the United States.
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