The United States government is reportedly considering a ban against Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, over what some security experts say are valid fears regarding user privacy and the security of the data the app collects.
“The amount of data (TikTok) collects is above and beyond what other social media platforms collect,” said Anita Nikolich, professor and director of the Active Computational Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology, in comments to the Chicago Tribune.
News of the potential ban comes a few weeks after teens from around the world used the app to coordinate a massive prank in which they registered for president Trump’s Tusla, Oklahoma, rally which famously led the administration to brag about the projected turnout, only to be left with an embarrassingly empty arena on the day of the event.
More recently, a pair of computer security researchers in Australia voiced concern over the possibility that TikTok and its owner ByteDance may collect more data than they admit to — including face biometrics — and speculated over the likelihood that the data is actually stored in Beijing, where the company is headquartered, rather than in neutral Singapore as the company officially states.
Now, Nikolich is highlighting the fact that TikTok also enables the collection of behavioral biometrics based on how the end user holds their smartphone, as well as other data including location tracking. Other researchers, meanwhile, found that TikTok had access to the user’s clipboard data on iOS, which could include password information, though this has now been patched by Apple.
Recently, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News viewers in an interview that downloading the app is tantamount to putting their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” adding fuel to the conspiracy that the Chinese government is using the app to spy on the global community.
Source: Chicago Tribune
July 13, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis