TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance planned to use the social media app to monitor the physical location of specific American citizens, according to documents obtained by Forbes.
A team within ByteDance’s “Internal Audit and Risk Control department” reportedly conducts investigations into possible “misconduct” by current and former employees, but in at least two cases, the team had planned on gathering TikTok data about the location of a U.S. citizen who had never worked at the company.
While it remains unclear whether the Beijing-based company was able to collect personal data about these Americans, it is nonetheless clear that the plan was to use location information to surveil individual American citizens, not to send them targeted ads.
The nature and purpose of the planned surveillance was not disclosed in order to protect sources, Forbes said.
The outlet added that both TikTok and ByteDance did not answer questions about whether the department has specifically targeted any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures, or journalists.