TikTok under fire for violating user privacy rights and stealing their data

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TikTok is one of the social media apps that gained most of its popularity in the COVID pandemic. The app allows users to post content in the form of short videos on various topics. TikTok was doing great in terms of business and popularity. Now in the recent news, we hear that things are about to go down for the app and the company called ByteDance that owns it.

We know that lately, the United States government is trying hard to get rid of this app from the United States. In addition, there was a class-action lawsuit against TikTok recently. This time, the app is accused of using unconventional and illegal methods to collect user data. This personal data of users from America can be misused and potentially stolen by the Chinese government according to the claims made by the United States Government.

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Image Credit: techcrunch.com

Consequently, Donald Trump is ready to chop down the TikTok’s business in the United States. Among these problems, another issue pops up for TikTok users. In the newest report from The Wall Street Journal, we find out that the social media app is collecting user information from Android users.

The app is stealing Mac addresses of users without any notice or consent. Further details in the report point out that the app was able to track down these MAC addresses by exploiting a bug and hiding its tracks with an atypical extra layer of encryption.

The Mac Address issue:

WiFi technology uses a proprietary address system called Mac address for identifying each device in the network. It is a unique identity system meaning users can not change or reset it once it’s erased. Interestingly Google banned apps from accessing and storing Mac addresses in favor of public privacy.

Similarly, Apple also has a restriction in place to prevent apps from doing that for the last few years. TikTok and the parent company ByteDance are now accused of using Mac addresses to track people. They can do that even if the TikTok user installs better security on their phones that block out third-party adds.

Currently, there are around 89 million installs of the app from the Google Play Store, as reported by Sensor Tower. In the report, we found out that TikTok tracked user Mac Addresses for about 15 months and then fixed this issue by an update in the current version.

Tiktok

TikTok said in their statement that this is a false accusation, and TikTok takes public privacy and data security very seriously. They said that with the latest updates, TikTok stopped tracking the MAC addresses since November 2019. The newest version of the app does not collect these addresses.

TikTok also said that the rumors about them spying on US citizens are false. They said that all of the user information is safe with their application, and they do not give this to any third party company or service. Furthermore, we also heard from the CIA that the Chinese government never accessed any data content from US citizens through the app.

The courts will decide if any party did something illegal because this case is now set for courts. Googles said that they are looking into the matter, and they will come out with more details when they can. Furthermore, Bytedance is also ready to take the case into courts. They will fight google and the US government on this issue.

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