TikTok Use Rises Privacy Concerns Globally
The issue of TikTok became viral after India banned TikTok together with several other apps from China last month for not protecting users' confidential data. Australia is considering blocking the app, and so is the US. The service members of US Army and Navy have already been banned from installingTikTok onto their government-issued phones.
Since TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company, so Trump administration expressed grave concerns that information about Americans could flow to Chinese government. That's why US government insists on selling TikTok company in the nearest future.
There recently was a loud discussion on Reddit, where an amateur hacker, nicknamed Bangorlol, said he haddisassembled TikTok; he called ероу app "a data collection service disguised as a social network".
According to Bangorlol, TikTok collects users' real names, dates of birth, addresses, phone numbers, passwords; information about other applications on the phone, including uninstalled ones; Information on the user's Internet activity. In addition, location of the device is captured every 30 seconds.
In another research, by Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk, which was published a couple of months ago, TikTok was named among 54 iOS apps that tracked sensitive data in Pasteboard. The problem is that various sensitive data could get there - credit card numbers and passwords, crypto wallets and private messages, etc. In Apple devices, the data gets into Pasteboard when a text is copyed and pasted, or during drag and drop. After publication of the study, TikTok claimed to have already fixed the issue, but later report from Arstechnica states that TikTok continues to access the most valuable data of Apple users and in lots of cases secret reading is not limited to data stored locally on the device.
The rising concerns come right when TikTok sees its popularity skyrocket. The app has got a great boost due to the notorious coronavirus pandemic. According to research firm Sensor Tower, the app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times, with 623 million of downloads in the first six months of 2020. Before the blocking, India had been its largest TikTok's audience, followed by Brazil and the USA. In China itself, TikTok is not available - instead, its version called Douyin is distributed there.