WASHINGTON — TikTok is under investigation by the FBI and Department of Justice. This includes previously revealed allegations that employees of the company spied upon journalists, according to a law enforcement official who has knowledge of this matter.
According to officials, the investigation is being led by the FBI and Washington District prosecutors of Justice Department.
The FBI and DOJ declined to comment.
A spokesperson for ByteDance told NBC that they had strongly condemned the actions taken by the individuals involved and that they were no longer employed by ByteDance. We are still conducting an internal investigation and will cooperate with any official investigations that may be brought to our attention.
Forbes reported the news about the probe on Thursday. It stated that the employees involved in the surveillance were fired because it was clear they were trying to locate the source of leaks to journalists within the company. Forbes reported that ByteDance found that employees had access to the IP addresses of reporters and to some of their contacts through TikTok accounts.
ByteDance is under federal investigation as security concerns over TikTok have intensified. According to NBC News, a source close the company said that the Biden administration threatened to ban the popular social media app from the U.S. if the Chinese owners don’t sell their stakes. This threat was made after U.S. intelligence officers expressed concern that TikTok could be used to spy on Americans and influence U.S. public opinions.
When asked by reporters what message the White House was sending to TikTok users in America, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, stated that “We have expressed concern over China’s potential use software platforms that could threaten or endanger America’s safety and national security.” That is the president’s concern. We have urged Congress to act on this matter.”
Jean-Pierre stated that TikTok’s software is being reviewed by a number of federal agencies.
Biden supports legislation that was introduced earlier in the month by a bipartisan group. It would allow federal government to regulate foreign-produced technology including TikTok.
The bill gives the secretary of commerce power to regulate tech made by six countries with hostile relations with the U.S.