In response to allegations, ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, has declared its intention to challenge claims that it terminated an executive for raising concerns about the company’s alleged “culture of lawlessness.”
Yu Yintao has filed a lawsuit against ByteDance in a San Francisco court, coinciding with mounting political pressure in the United States to ban TikTok.
Critics argue that the popular platform enables Beijing to clandestinely gather user data and manipulate their viewpoints, a charge that the company denies.
A spokesperson from ByteDance conveyed their determination to vigorously contest the unsubstantiated claims and accusations outlined in the lawsuit through an email response to AFP.
According to Yu’s recent lawsuit, filed this month, he alleges that shortly after joining ByteDance in 2017 as the company’s US head of engineering, he discovered that ByteDance was engaged in “stealing” videos from competing platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, presenting them as their own.
Despite notifying company leaders about this issue, Yu claims that the intellectual property infringement persisted without any meaningful resolution.
As a result, Yu was terminated from his position in November 2018. In response, ByteDance stated that Yu had worked for ByteDance Inc for less than a year and clarified that during his tenure, he primarily worked on an app called Flipagram, which was discontinued several years ago due to business considerations.
ByteDance emphasized its commitment to respecting the intellectual property rights of other companies, asserting that they acquire data in compliance with industry practices and their global policy.
Recently, on Friday, Yu submitted an amendment to his initial complaint, which was filed on May 1. In the updated filing, Yu accuses ByteDance of functioning as a “useful propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party.”
This allegation adds to the ongoing controversy surrounding ByteDance and TikTok, particularly regarding concerns over access to the personal data of American users.
In response to these concerns, ByteDance asserts that it exclusively stores user data on servers located in the United States.
In a congressional hearing held in Washington in late March, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew faced predominantly skeptical questioning from US legislators, during which he assured them that Beijing did not have access to the data collected by TikTok.
The issue of data privacy and security remains a focal point in the discussions surrounding TikTok and ByteDance.