A lawsuit accuses “Tik Tok” of participating in an international scheme to steal platforms

A former employee of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has claimed he was wrongfully terminated after raising concerns about what he believes are illegal practices by the company, such as stealing content from rivals Snapchat and Instagram. “.

Yintao Yu, who filed a lawsuit in San Francisco, USA, Supreme Court earlier this month, worked at ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, from August 2017 to November 2018 as Chief Engineering Officer for US operations. .

In a new complaint, Yu also alleged that ByteDance engaged in a “culture of lawlessness” and was an arm of “propaganda” for China, according to the New York Times. According to the complaint, the commission “maintained superior access to all company data, even data stored in the United States.”

The newspaper said the committee referred to a special unit of Chinese Communist Party members who were at ByteDance’s offices in Beijing. Yu claimed that shortly after starting his job, he became aware of his company’s involvement in a “global scheme” to steal from the app’s competitors such as Instagram and Snapchat. He painted a picture of the company’s early days in 2018, and claimed it would capture video from its competitors and use it to package its own video services.

The former employee alleged in the complaint that he was “disturbed by the company’s efforts to circumvent legal and ethical lines”.

The allegations come as the popular TikTok app is at risk of being banned by US lawmakers due to national security concerns. Montana lawmakers voted to ban the app entirely in the state just weeks after CEO Xu Ziqiu spent hours testifying before Congress. The Biden administration has threatened to block the app nationwide unless its Chinese owners sell their shares in the company, illustrating an increasingly strained relationship between Washington and Beijing.

However, security experts say there is still no public evidence that the Chinese government has actually spied on people through TikTok, which does not operate in China.

“It’s not that we know that TikTok has done something, it’s that mistrust of China and awareness of Chinese espionage has increased,” says James Lewis, an information security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

In his new lawsuit, Yu raised intellectual property concerns with Wenga Chu, then senior vice president of engineering. “When informed of Yu’s concerns about the program, Mr. Chu dismissed them, and intellectual property infringement continued unabated,” the complaint reads. Yoo’s attorney, Charles Young, said the former employee is the most senior executive ever to come forward publicly.

“In his view, technology companies should be run ethically and responsibly,” Young said. “My client is concerned with the protection of US user data, the ethical operation of the app, and the welfare of ByteDance employees.”

A spokesperson for ByteDance confirmed that his company is “committed to respecting the intellectual property of other companies, and we obtain data in accordance with industry practices and our global policy.”

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