In December 2022, several US government agencies already started banning TikTok on bureaucrats’ devices. These countries accuse China of espionage, WIRED reports.
Why TikTok is causing governments so much fear
Recently, Canada and the European Commission banned employees from using TikTok on their mobile devices, citing a threat to privacy. Other countries such as Brazil and Italy have joined.
The app, created by Chinese company ByteDance, has long been in the crosshairs of US authorities over its many privacy concerns.
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The personal and intimate information that TikTok collects when a video is uploaded
Data-driven algorithm and intrusive tracking
One of the reasons for the app’s success is that it can provide users with highly individualized content. Each user has their own feed based on their interests and preferences.
But behind that one-to-one approach is the practice of collecting massive amounts of user data inside and outside the app, just as Tik Tok says on its platform.
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Once a user starts using TikTok, the company starts building a profile about that person, including their interests, political affiliations, sexuality, and other variables that can affect the selection of videos they watch.
TikTok also collects information about users’ keystroke patterns, location information, browsing history, and even biometric information (voice and facial prints).
The problem is not just the fact that a large company has such vulnerable information about its users and can later use it for advertising purposes. A data breach is also sufficient for that information to fall into the wrong hands.
Hackers can steal valuable data from online businesses and then use it for their own malicious purposes.
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By creating an account on TikTok, users agree that their data will be collected and used for personalized advertising. If a user does not want personalized ads, they can disable them in the settings.
This is one of two privacy options that TikTok allows. The second allows users to make accounts private.
TikTok: why the United States, Canada and the European Commission have banned the app on their official phones
How to maintain privacy on TikTok
“The only way to prevent TikTok from collecting your data is to stop using the app. However, there are ways to keep your account a little more private,” says Adrianus Warmenhoven, Cybersecurity Advisor at NordVPN.
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