In 2020, Trump’s administration tried to ban a chinese-owned popular app. The bill was blocked by a federal judge, Carl Nichols, who concluded that Trump overstepped his authority in using his emergency economic powers.
Today, Biden’s administration continues to take steps in tackling TikTok. The White House forbade federal workers to use TikTok on government issued phones and threatened to ban the app unless its owners divest.
The popular entertaining service is used by 100 million Americans. TikTok videos are viewed 1 billion times per day. The platform collects a vast amount of user data and stores it on its servers located in the USA and Singapore.
Many concerns are raised by the FBI. It states that TikTok might share user data with the Chinese government. That data could be abused in many ways like spying on American federal workers. Another worry is that the Chinese authorities might potentially use TikTok to propagate its own agenda. However, there is no public evidence that any of the above concerns took place.
The TikTok gathers user’s data such as: watched videos, comments, private messages, geolocation, contact lists, email address, phone number, age, search and browsing history. Also, the app, like many other tech giants, practices keylogging. Its purpose is to detect bots, spam, debugging, troubleshooting, and performance monitoring. However, the privacy researcher, Felix Krause, claims that hypothetically through keylogging the Chinese platform could collect passwords, credit card information or other data, when users use TikTok’s in-app browser.
It might seem that TikTok harvests an extensive amount of data, but researchers show it isn’t any more than American platforms do. In 2021, the University of Toronto’s nonprofit Citizen Lab, discovered that TikTok and Facebook collect similar amounts of user data.
TikTok’s privacy and data security policies remain questionable among American and European lawmakers. We will see how issues surrounding TikTok unfold.