A recent report from the Wall Street Journal alleges that the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok circumvented a privacy safeguard in Google’s Android operating system to collect user data.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, which has come under fire from the Trump administration over national security concerns, circumvented a privacy safeguard in Google’s Android operating system to collect unique identifiers from millions of users that would allow the app to track users online without letting them opt-out.
Mobile-phone security experts told the WSJ that the tactic used by TikTok was concealed through an unusual added layer of encryption, very likely violated Google policies relating to how apps track people, and was not disclosed to Twitter users. TikTok stopped the tracking practice in November according to tests performed by the WSJ.
The TikTok app collected unique device identifiers called MAC addresses, these are commonly used for advertising purposes. The Trump administration has previously expressed concerns over how TikTok users’ data is collected and whether or no it could be obtained by the Chinese government and used for blackmail or espionage.