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DOJ Investigates TikTok for Chinese Surveillance of U.S. Journalists, as Public Citizen Asked

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is investigating TikTok for potentially spying on U.S. citizens. Internal documents from the company revealed a plan for its Beijing team to monitor the location of specific U.S.-based journalists by “accessing location data from some U.S. users’ devices without their knowledge or consent.” The documents specifically alleged that this location data would be used for the purpose of surveillance as opposed to ad targeting or any other purpose. Cheyenne Hunt, big tech accountability advocate for Public Citizen, released the following statement:

“Public Citizen in 2022 called on regulators and lawmakers to hold TikTok accountable for its egregious abuse of user data to spy on Forbes journalists.  The DOJ investigation into TikTok’s surveillance of U.S. journalists is a necessary step to protect the safety and security of both reporters and all users of the app.

“While TikTok has publicly claimed that the data of U.S. users could not be accessed by its Chinese parent company, this incident proved that not to be the case. This is not just a case of ad targeting, but specific, personalized targeting of individuals for nefarious purposes. We are all paying a serious price for the lack of comprehensive data privacy legislation in this country, and until this is remedied, Big Tech companies will all continue to collect, use, and abuse our data.”