The popular TikTok app is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese multinational internet technology company. Three articles address the recent controversies about a possible ban.
From The Verge: For experts, the concern (surrounding TikTok) is less about mass data collection and more about targeted operations that are harder to detect. Because TikTok maintains the standard level of invasive app access, the Chinese intelligence services could potentially use it as a portal to surveil specific users or gather compromising information.
The FBI has already raised the alarm about Chinese spies stealing US trade secrets, so that same access is even scarier for Amazon or Wells Fargo, which might plausibly have proprietary tech that China wants to steal. As long as the Chinese government can put pressure on TikTok through its ownership, there will be ways to snoop on users without raising alarms. That makes it hard for high-risk users to feel entirely safe, no matter what the app does.
Source: Newton, C. (2020, July 14). TikTok’s biggest problem is outside its control. The Verge.
From CNN: Washington’s top diplomat (Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) said that people should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement, “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
The app has exploded in popularity in the United States and other western countries, becoming the first Chinese social media platform to gain significant traction with users outside of its home country. It was downloaded 315 million times in the first three months of this year, more quarterly downloads than any other app in history.
Source: Disis, J., Hansler, J. (2020, July 7). The United States is ‘looking at’ banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Pompeo says. CNN.
From Morning Consult:
Source: Piacenza, J. (2020, July 9). Public Divided on TikTok Ban as U.S. Considers Clampdown on Chinese Social Media Apps. Morning Consult.