TikTok Could Be Leaking Your Personal Data To China

It’s been reported that popular application TikTok could be leaking personal data from the US to China.

The app, one of the most used in the world at the moment, has become a bigger favorite than Instagram and has pulled in over 1.5 billion users to date. The portal allows for the uploading and viewing of short, funny videos performed to music or voiceovers.

According to New Scientist, there are court cases and investigations ongoing as it relates to the app and how it shares people’s data. And that it’s owned by Chinese technology magnates ByteDance isn’t very comforting.

A student in California filed a lawsuit against the creators of the app this week for what’s alleged to be the transferring of  “vast quantities of private and personally-identifiable user data” to Chinese servers. The complainant, Misty Hong, accused TikTok of transferring information pertaining to users’ use of their phones such as the websites they visit even outside of the app itself.

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Hong claims she never opened a TikTok account but found that information from her device, inclusive of draft videos she made using the app but never posted, was sent to China.

The allegations are backed up by German journalist Matthias Eberl, who has been analyzing the way the application dandles and transfers data. He claims to have found that information about the device and search terms entered into TikTok were sent to advertizing company Appsflyer and Facebook. The journo also reckons that private information that would help identify persons is being transferred to China, something which is in contravention of European data and privacy laws.

There is also an ongoing US investigation with concerns over national security and the censorship of politically sensitive content. Politicians, such as Senate minority leader Chuck Schummer, are said to believe that the app could send data from the US to China if a request is made by the Chinese government.

There are huge differences in privacy practices between the US, the EU, and China. The latter takes data from apps and uses it for its social credit system, which in turn attributes privileges based on certain variables. The US and EU have much stricter rules when it comes to the sharing of data.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment from the source but Alex Zhu, a high-up in the company, recently told the New York Times that the app does not store data on Chinese servers, adding that all data is kept in Virginia while backups are in Singapore.

Source: New Scientist

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