TicTok reportedly tracked user data using tactic banned by Google. Another proof TikTok is a Chinese spying app
Last week, President Trump signed an executive order banning US transactions with owners of TikTok and WeChat in 45 days. Citing national security concerns, President Trump the ban will make it unlawful for any US companies or citizens from making transactions with Chinese tech giant ByteDance, the parent company of the popular video-sharing app TikTok.
President Trump was right. Here’s another reason we should be deeply concerned about the Chinese app. A new Wall Street Journal (WSJ) investigation found that the ByteDance-owned TikTok has been tracking and collecting collected device identifiers for over a year in violation of Android policies. According to WSJ, TicTok reportedly tracked user data using tactic banned by Google.
The tactic, which experts in mobile-phone security said was concealed through an unusual added layer of encryption, appears to have violated Google policies, WSJ said. As of 2015, Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store had banned the collection of MAC addresses as a matter of policy, but TikTok was reportedly still able to obtain the identifier through a loophole
WSJ found that nearly 350 apps on the Google Play Store had taken advantage of a similar loophole, generally for ad-targeting purposes. The revelation comes at a delicate time when TikTok is facing the difficult decision to divest its U.S. operations. TikTok is currently in talks with Microsoft about potential acquisition. WSJ said:
“The tactic, which experts in mobile-phone security said was concealed through an unusual added layer of encryption, appears to have violated Google policies limiting how apps track people and wasn’t disclosed to TikTok users. TikTok ended the practice in November.”
ByteDance is under pressure from the White House over concerns that data collected by the app could be used to help the Chinese government track U.S. government employees or contractors. No one is surprised by the ban on TikTok. The U.S. has been talking about banning the popular teen app since April.
TikTok has faced scrutiny from the U.S. government over its handling of user data and amid larger tensions between the United States and China. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that the United States is “looking at” banning popular Chinese video app TikTok in the wake of the new law in Hong Kong.
TikTok, a social video app which allows users to create short videos with special effects and has become wildly popular with teenagers in the US. Earlier this year, TikTok was the third most popular app among US teens. Currently, TikTok has more than 800 million users worldwide.