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TikTok resists calls to preserve Ukraine content for war crime investigations

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Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova (C-L) and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Britain's Karim Khan (C-R), visit a mass grave on the grounds of the Church of Saint Andrew in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on April 13, 2022.

Enlarge / Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova (C-L) and Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Britain's Karim Khan (C-R), visit a mass grave on the grounds of the Church of Saint Andrew in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on April 13, 2022. (credit: Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images)

TikTok is resisting calls to preserve and hand over access to its content for war crime investigations, as lawyers and activists warn that the Chinese-owned app is a major data challenge in prosecuting atrocities in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The video app’s popularity with young Ukrainians and Russians posting footage of the war has made it a trove of digital intelligence that investigators are attempting to mine and archive as evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and illegal acts of violence in Ukraine.

TikTok, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has been criticized for being slow to respond to requests for product changes that allow the video app’s content to be archived and verified more easily, as well as better access to TikTok’s platform for members of civil society.

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