- ByteDance and TikTok sued the U.S. government Monday over its August 6 Executive Order to ban the app.
- ByteDance claims that the order denies it due process under the 5th Amendment and that the President hasn’t cited a proper justification for banning the app.
- Notably, President Trump retroactively included TikTok as part of a 2019 National Emergency declaration that was supposed to protect telecommunications services and banned Chinese companies in the sector, such as Huawei.
- TikTok claims it doesn’t meet the criteria to be included in that ban.
- Additionally, TikTok claims it has worked with U.S. authorities to prove it is secure and has been purposefully ignored by government officials investigating the matter.
ByteDance Decides To Push Lawsuit
ByteDance filed a lawsuit against the United States government Monday, claiming that President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban TikTok denied it due process and lacked the proper legal justification.
That Executive Order was issued in early August and meant that TikTok, the ByteDance owned platform, would be effectively banned by September 15 unless it found a U.S.-based buyer.
In their complaint, ByteDance and TikTok argue that they aren’t a national security threat and were denied due process under the Fifth Amendment.
“The Executive Order issued by the Administration on August 6, 2020 has the potential to strip the rights of [the TikTok] community without any evidence to justify such an extreme action, and without any due process,” the two added in the suit.
One of TikTok’s big problems with the administration’s decision is the fact that it apparently tried to work with U.S. authorities to alleviate fears over potential national security risks. For example, TikTok claims it gave “voluminous documentation” to the U.S. that proved user data is stored outside of China. Instead, it’s stored in the U.S. and Singapore. TikTok added that those documents showed its platform was secure from Chinese authorities, which is one of the biggest concerns U.S. authorities have about the app.
The company also was frustrated that the U.S. government reached out about ByteDance’s acquisition of Musc.ly, a precursor to TikTok, two years after the deal was done. Bytedance claims that it had given documentation to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to prove its security measures were more than enough to satisfy any concerns. Yet, it says that that committee, “never articulated any reason why TikTok’s security measures were inadequate to address any national security concerns, and effectively terminated formal communications with Plaintiffs well before the conclusion of the initial statutory review period.”
The fact that CFIUS was even looking into ByteDance’s acquisition of Musical.ly in the first place is pretty notable as well. Musical.ly was a Chinese company that was bought by another Chinese company. Additionally, Musical.ly had very few assets in the U.S., most of which were sold off soon after being bought by ByteDance.
ByteDance is unsure why the CFIUS was investigating the matter, as the committee is supposed to ensure that foreign companies investing in American ones aren’t a national security risk. However, all of ByteDance’s transactions were between Chinese firms.
ByteDance is also arguing that“By banning TikTok with no notice or opportunity to be heard… the executive order violates the due process protections of the Fifth Amendment.” The complaint goes on to say, “The order is ultra vires because it is not based on a bona fide national emergency and authorizes the prohibition of activities that have not been found to pose ‘an unusual and extraordinary threat.'”
The Administration’s Authority
Trump’s order to ban TikTok hinges on the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. That act allows the President to regulate international trade in limited cases where he or she has declared a National Emergency over an extraordinary threat to the country.
Trump’s August executive order didn’t make a new national emergency for TikTok, it just classified it under a May 15, 2019 Executive Order that declared a National Emergency over the security of information and communications technology services. That order was targeted at companies like Chinese telecommunication companies such as Huawei, which have been accused by multiple nations of having close ties with China.
TikTok argues that it doesn’t fall under any of the categories that the order outlines and are improperly lumped into the same group. That may be true, but that 2019 order was extremely vague and has yet to be tested under these conditions in court. The order’s language encompasses just about any hardware or software company that could be associated with the telecommunications or communications industry.
TikTok will need to be able to prove that their app has nothing to do with those sectors to fall outside of the orders purview, which has yet to be considered by a judge. In the end, TikTok is confident that “the Administration’s decisions were heavily politicized, and industry experts have said the same.”
During all of this, there are reports that both Microsoft and Oracle are still in talks to buy TikTok, although it’s unclear if a successful suit by ByteDance will change those plans.
See What Others Are Saying: (CNET) (New York Times) (CNBC)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.
Twitch Blames Server Configuration Error for Hack, Says There’s No Indication That Login Info Leaked
The platform also said full credit card numbers were not reaped by hackers, as that data is stored externally.
Login and Credit Card Info Secure
Twitch released a security update late Wednesday claiming it had seen “no indication” that users’ login credentials were stolen by hackers who leaked the entire platform’s source code earlier in the day.
“Full credit card numbers are not stored by Twitch, so full credit card numbers were not exposed,” the company added in its announcement.
The leaked data, uploaded to 4chan, includes code related to the platform’s security tools, as well as exact totals of how much it has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
Early Thursday, Twitch also announced that it has now reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Streamers looking for their new keys can visit a dashboard set up by the platform, though users may need to manually update their software with the new key before being able to stream again depending on what kind of software they use.
As far as what led to the hackers being able to steal the data, Twitch blamed an error in a “server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party,” confirming that the leak was not the work of a current employee who used internal tools.
Will Users Go to Other Streaming Platforms?
While no major creators have said they are leaving Twitch for a different streaming platform because of the hack, many small users have either announced their intention to leave Twitch or have said they are considering such a move.
It’s unclear if the leak, coupled with other ongoing Twitch controversies, will ultimately lead to a significant user exodus, but there’s little doubt that other platforms are ready and willing to leverage this hack in the hopes of attracting new users.
At least one big-name streamer has already done as much, even if largely only presenting the idea as a playful jab rather than with serious intention.
“Pretty crazy day today,” YouTube’s Valkyrae said on a stream Wednesday while referencing a tweet she wrote earlier the day.
“YouTube is looking to sign more streamers,” that tweet reads.
“I mean, they are! … No shade to Twitch… Ah! Well…” Valkyrae said on stream before interrupting herself to note that she was not being paid by YouTube to make her comments.
The Entirety of Twitch Has Been Leaked Online, Including How Much Top Creators Earn
The data dump, which could be useful for some of Twitch’s biggest competitors, could signify one of the most encompassing platform leaks ever.
Massive Collection of Data Leaked
Twitch’s full source code was uploaded to 4chan Wednesday morning after it was obtained by hackers.
Among the 125 GB of stolen data is information revealing that Amazon, which owns Twitch, has at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library. That library, codenamed Vapor, would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
With Amazon being the all-encompassing giant that it is, it’s not too surprising that it would try to develop a Steam rival, but it’s eyecatching news nonetheless considering how much the release of Vapor could shake up the market.
The leaked data also showcased exactly how much Twitch has paid its creators, including the platform’s top accounts, such as the group CriticalRole, as well as steamers xQcOW, Tfue, Ludwig, Moistcr1tikal, Shroud, HasanAbi, Sykkuno, Pokimane, Ninja, and Amouranth.
These figures only represent payouts directly from Twitch. Each creator mentioned has made additional money through donations, sponsorships, and other off-platform ventures. Sill, the information could be massively useful for competitors like YouTube Gaming, which is shelling out big bucks to ink deals with creators.
Data related to Twitch’s internal security tools, as well as code related to software development kits and its use of Amazon Web Services, was also released with the hack. In fact, so much data was made public that it could constitute one of the most encompassing platform dumps ever.
Streamer CDawgVA, who has just under 500,000 subscribers on Twitch, tweeted about the severity of the data breach on Wednesday.
“I feel like calling what Twitch just experienced as “leak” is similar to me shitting myself in public and trying to call it a minor inconvenience,” he wrote. “It really doesn’t do the situation justice.”
Despite that, many of the platform’s top streamers have been quite casual about the situation.
“Hey, @twitch EXPLAIN?”xQc tweeted. Amouranth replied with a laughing emoji and the text, “This is our version of the Pandora papers.”
Meanwhile, Pokimane tweeted, “at least people can’t over-exaggerate me ‘making millions a month off my viewers’ anymore.”
Others, such as Moistcr1tikal and HasanAbi argued that their Twitch earning are already public information given that they can be easily determined with simple calculations.
Could More Data Come Out?
This may not be the end of the leak, which was labeled as “part one.” If true, there’s no reason to think that the leakers wouldn’t publish a part two.
For example, they don’t seem to be too fond of Twitch and said they hope this data dump “foster[s] more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.”
They added that the platform is a “disgusting toxic cesspool” and included the hashtag #DoBetterTwitch, which has been used in recent weeks to drive boycotts against the platform as smaller creators protest the ease at which trolls can use bots to spam their chats with racist, sexist, and homophobic messages.
Still, this leak does appear to lack one notable set of data: password and address information of Twitch users.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the leakers don’t have it. It could just mean they are only currently interested in sharing Twitch’s big secrets.
Regardless, Twitch users and creators are being strongly urged to change their passwords as soon as possible and enable two-factor authentication.