The Justice Department is investigating allegations that the Chinese company that owns TikTok has been spying on journalists and other Americans, the New York Times reported Friday.
The inquiry began late last year after TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, admitted that employees had wrongly captured information of American users of the social app, including data from two journalists and some of their associates, the Times reported.
The U.S. government as been concerned for years about the growing popularity of TikTok and the influence the authoritarian Chinese government has over the company and how the app is used.
Both the Trump and Biden administrations have investigated TikTok amid these concerns, and now FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia have joined the inquiry. According to several reports, the Biden administration is pressuring ByteDance to cut ties with TikTok or face being banned in the U.S. market. The app is already banned on government phones in the United States, Europe and more than two dozen states.
A reporter for Forbes magazine reported the story, saying she was one of the journalists whose data had been monitored through the app.
ByteDance is claiming that the employees who did the spying were acting independently and have been fired. The investigation is ongoing, and the Justice Department so far has made no statement about that incident.