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Former ByteDance CEO Claims China Had Access to TikTok Data



digital trends

TikTok is once again feeling out of sorts after the former lead chief executive officer of its parent company Byte Dance filed a series of revealing claims in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed recently in the San Francisco Supreme Court.

Among the allegations made by Yingtao Yu was that the Chinese Community Party (CCP) “maintained supreme access” to TikTok data held in the US while he was with the company between 2017 and 2018.

Yu also said in the lawsuit that he believed ByteDance “served as a useful propaganda tool for the Chinese Communist Party.”

The lawsuit comes as US lawmakers continue to consider the future of the social media app amid growing concerns about TikTok’s impact on US national security and data privacy. Axios reported.

Yu, who was reportedly the head of ByteDance’s U.S. operations development department, argued in the lawsuit that the CCP had a “special office or division” operating within the Beijing-headquartered company, adding that it “played a significant role “, influencing “how the company promoted core communist values” on the app.

The lawsuit accused the company of promoting “nationalist content”. [that] serves both to increase activity on ByteDance websites and to promote support for CCP,” adding that CCP can also access user data in the US through a “black channel in the code.”

Yu’s lawsuit alleges that ByteDance “knew that if the Chinese government backdoor was removed from the international/US version of the app, the Chinese government feared it would ban the company’s valuable Chinese apps.”

TikTok has always insisted that the Chinese state does not have access to its user data and US data is stored in the US and Singapore. Responding to the allegations, ByteDance said it would “strongly oppose what we believe to be unsubstantiated statements and allegations in this complaint.”

Since Yu left the company in 2018, TikTok has taken a number of steps to protect user data in the US, some of which are part of a $1.5 billion initiative called Project Texas.

The future of TikTok’s existence in the US still hangs in the balance as lawmakers, due to political differences, are considering steps that could potentially give the US government the power to ban TikTok nationwide.

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Post office manager ordered to report false medical certificate about controversial software



The Post Office commissioned an internal performance report on its controversial Horizon system in 2010, intending to give the software a clean bill of health, focusing only on the positives amid allegations and prosecutions of junior postmasters for the accounting shortcomings it caused.

V Final hearing as part of the third stage of the official public inquiry into the Post Office scandal heard that the author of the report did not even investigate the alleged problems with the software, but simply contacted the IT group and staff of Fujitsu, the software supplier, who assured him of its reliability.

The report was commissioned after questions began to be raised about unexplained accounting deficiencies at post offices, and Computer Weekly identified problems experienced by junior postmasters that they believed were caused by computer errors.

From Horizon’s inception in 1999 to 2014, more than 700 junior postmasters and branch workers have been prosecuted for theft and fraud after being accused of phantom losses. Hundreds were prosecuted, some sent to prison, thousands lost huge sums of money, many went bankrupt.

It was later proven in the High Court that computer bugs were the cause of the shortage, and so far 86 former junior postmasters have had their wrongful convictions for fraud and theft overturned, and many more are expected.

There was no terms of reference for the report, which was initiated by then Post Office Managing Director David Smith, but it was clear to Rod Ismay, Head of Product and Branch Accounting (P&BA) who was tasked with completing the report, that he should simply communicate “positive reasons to be Confident in Horizon” to give clear evidence of the health of the software.

The Post Office considered an external review and report, Ismay said, but decided against it for reasons including that people would still question the system and ask questions regardless of the outcome, and that companies that would conduct an audit contain “material disclaimers” in their report that may cast doubt on the conclusions.

Advantages considered

Back in 2012, when the report was released, the Post Office said it had “actively considered the merits of independent verification.” “This was done solely from the perspective that we believe in Horizon, but the review can help give others the same confidence we have,” the post reads. “Our solution between IT, legal, P&BA, security and press [departments] continues to be that no matter what opinions we get, people will still ask “what if” and the defense will always ask questions that require answers that are outside the scope of the report.”

It adds: “Ernst & Young and Deloitte are aware of this issue from the media and we have discussed the pros and cons of the reports with them. Both will offer substantial clauses and will have restrictions on their ability to appear in court, so we didn’t pursue that further.”

Ismay accepted being “asked to present one side of the coin”, as investigative attorney Jason Beer put it.

There was no terms of reference for the report, but Ismay said, “I think at the time I felt the question was quite clear: ‘Please could you list reasons for confidence?’ Ismay admitted that he was given free rein. wrote what he wanted, and only assured of the reliability of the Horizon.

During a hearing on the state public inquiry into the Horizon Post Office scandal, Ismay said that the Post Office’s stance on unexplained losses was that, unless there was a conspicuous error, it was presumed to have been caused by the sub-postmaster, either intentionally as a result of theft or in the result of their mistake.

He acknowledged that when he was the head of risk and control at the post office, questions were raised about the incident at the post office, but his investigation of alleged computer problems was limited to asking the IT department and the Fujitsu staff who supplied the software, the question of whether there were any grounds for accusations of unreliability.

“I did ask the team the question, ‘Look, if we have this allegation, it’s… you know if there’s a basis for it?'” Ismay said. “And colleagues from the IT team at the time came to me with a very strong opinion that it was – the charge made was without any basis.”

When Ismay compiled his 2010 report, he used information from Fujitsu senior technical director Gareth Jenkins. Beer asked him: “In what sense do you think it was objective to ask the person responsible for the development and maintenance of the system whether the system that he developed and maintained was coherent?

Ismay said: “People separated from Gareth that I asked the question told me it was reliable. So, people from our own IT team. Gareth says the same here. Without auditing, I don’t know what else I could do other than accept these statements from individuals. Now I think that the report should have indicated that these are unverified claims, as well as those unverified by me during the comparison of this report, and my report does not say this.

Ismay said the lack of time and his workload were to blame for this major omission. The chairman of the public inquiry, Vin Williams, intervened. He said, “I don’t want to be rude, but some people call it whitewashing. Do you think you did it?”

Ismay said, “No, I think they – accusations were made, but someone like David Smith who joined the organization didn’t hear – and he found his place in the organization.”

Williams replied, “But just telling him one side of the story doesn’t really teach him anything, does it?” Ismay said, “That’s what [David Smith] asked about.”

The investigation questioned the assertion in the report that it was “drafted as an objective internal review [the Post Office’s] processes around sectoral accounting”. Beer asked Ismay, “Do you understand what ‘objective’ means based on real facts, not dependent on personal beliefs or feelings, or not limited by a predetermined set of criteria?”

Ismay agreed with the understanding of this word. Beer replied, “That report didn’t have any of that, did it?”

Reflection Advantage

Williams asked Ismay, “After reflection, do you agree that the decision not to conduct a fully independent investigation and audit of the Horizon system in 2010, but instead to produce a report whose purpose was to demonstrate the strength and reliability of Horizon, what a blunder?”

Ismay agreed that an independent report should have been made.

The Post Office consistently claimed that there were no bugs in the Horizon system that resulted in unexplained branch losses, and continued to harass junior postmasters, as well as requiring them to cover any losses in any branch.


In 2009, Computer Weekly published a study of the problems faced by seven sub-postmasters using Horizon. At the post office, each of them was told that no one else had problems, and they covered up computer errors. This is a frequent complaint by sub-postmasters that the help desk did not assist them in investigating unexplained accounting shortcomings.

Previously, in Phase 3 of a public investigation, it emerged that the Post Office’s senior executives told employees in an internal messaging not to disclose issues caused by its Horizon IT system due to fears that the organization would face serious business and legal difficulties.

Sean Turner, a former executive director of the Post Office’s National Business Support Center who supported junior postmasters using the controversial accounting system, said he was aware “generally” of problems in the organization that if the problems became known it would cause Distrust of the Horizon.

“As far as I remember, an article in Computer Weekly and the early days [campaign group] Fairness for the Subpostmasters Alliance was certainly something that was mentioned in the business and when messages got to internal staff like me around the robust nature of Horizon.”

He said he did not remember specifically where the messages came from, but that they came from the top management of the organization: “I had the impression that the messages came from the top management. I believe the messages came from a lower level of government.”

When the Post Office finally commissioned an independent report on the reliability of the Horizon system in 2012 after pressure from legislators, work by forensic accounting firm Second Sight uncovered serious problems with the software, processes, and technology that supported it. When Second Sight began to get to the bottom of the truth, the post office fired the company.

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