TikTok Denies Report it is Tracking U.S. Citizens

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Image Source: Research Leap

TikTok has denied a claim that its Chinese parent company ByteDance intended to use the app to monitor Americans.

Forbes revealed on Thursday that ByteDance’s Internal Audit and Risk Control division intended to get user data. Regarding the whereabouts of a citizen of the United States who had never worked for the business.

Forbes cited internal business “documents” it analyzed for the study.

It claimed it was not publishing the surveillance details mentioned in the files to safeguard its sources. According to the article, it was unclear whether ByteDance gathered information on people in the United States.

TikTok asserted that no activists, public personalities, or U.S. government officials have ever been “targeted.” Additionally, any exploitation of internal audit resources, as Forbes claimed, would automatically terminate all firm employees.

TikTok claims that Forbes left out the part of its reply that disputed the veracity of its primary charge. Users from the United States are not provided with precise GPS location data by the app. Therefore, it could not track American users, as the report stated. Although TikTok stores user I.P. addresses, it is impossible to accurately locate a device’s location using I.P. addresses.

It claimed Forbes’ reportage regarding TikTok continues to lack both rigor and journalistic integrity.”

Bill Hankes, a spokesman for Forbes, stated his trust in the publication’s information and reporting. However, Emily Baker-White, the author of the Forbes article, said that she had previously held “policy posts at Facebook and Spotify.”

Is TikTok parent company, ByteDance, a tool?

Over 1 billion people have downloaded the entertainment app. But because it is owned and run by Chinese internet juggernaut ByteDance, it has been a political football since it was founded. In 2020, India restricted TikTok and other Chinese apps.

In the final months of his presidency, the American president brought up national security issues. As a result, Donald Trump vowed to outlaw TikTok in the nation with an executive order. Unless ByteDance sold American investors a majority stake in TikTok. However, Trump’s order was obstructed by U.S. federal judges.

Nine Republican senators again raised concerns about TikTok’s connections to China in June. A letter “demanding explanations on TikTok’s backdoor data access for Beijing” was delivered to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew. A piece from BuzzFeed News on June 17 sparked a mention of China’s communist government.

The article claims that TikTok personnel in China have “repeatedly” accessed the data of individuals with U.S. addresses.

Chew noted that the access TikTok gave personnel in China to U.S. user data was part of measures to stop that access. To “move materially in the direction of compliance with a final agreement with the U.S. Government.

U.S. Government granted ByteDance concessions

Chew also reaffirmed the assertion that “100% of U.S. user traffic” is directed to Oracle’s cloud computing infrastructure.

TikTok intends to eventually remove all American user data from its Singaporean data centers.

According to Chew, the company will provide its Chinese staff “limited” access to user data from Americans under the revised security strategy. And it will only happen following protocols created by the American government.

TikTok asserts that neither the Chinese government nor the Chinese Communist Party has ever requested data sharing.

President Biden overturned President Trump’s executive orders banning WeChat and TikTok in June. While also starting a probe into applications linked to “foreign enemies” that might threaten data privacy or national security.

The Biden administration and TikTok agreed to address concerns about national security.

Read Also: TikTok may be fined in the U.K. for failure to protect privacy

It would be obligated to retain user data from Americans within the United States solely. In addition, it permits Oracle to keep an eye on TikTok’s content algorithms to spot any potential meddling from the communist government of China.