There is a growing shadow of concern around Tik Tok. The app is currently at 1.2 billion downloads and growing, but a shadow also grows next to its glittering success. After the app’s breakthrough into mainstream markets, there were some concerns with its server security. In November 2019 Checkpoint presented findings for its investigation on the app.
What they found was that the system server could easily be hacked by sending malware that allows the hacker to post and send messages as the user. This also leaves user information vulnerable as they could also access personal information such as names and email addresses.
Late December 2019 TikTok security team reported back that they had fixed these issues that were highlighted and that they would ensure to protect user data from hackers.
The U.S Department of Defense is also reported to have concerns about downloads of the app. They warned its employees not to install the app due to its ability to convey location and biometric data to its Chinese parent company.
The main concern is more to do with Chinese government regulations here. All corporations run in China have a legal obligation to share data should the government deem it necessary. It seems the U.S is not too comfortable with the Chinese government having all 800 000 million users’ information to itself.
With great power comes greater responsibility. The Federal Trade Commission also has concerns about TikTok’s privacy data practises. In February 2020 the Federal Trade Commission laid a complaint against the app for collecting personal information from minors.
According to COPPA any company seeking to access a minor’s personal information should get direct consent from said minor’s legal guardian. Tik Tok decided to settle this complaint with a whopping US$5.7 million dollars. Which seems to do nothing to stop its troubles with the law.
The British Commissioners Office is also investigating how Tik Tok could have broken their own European laws which offer special protection to minors’ information data. As if this is not enough, the app is also being accused of censoring any information posted on the app that is not palatable to the Chinese government.
Despite all these issues, the general public seems not to show any concern as downloads continue and Tik Tok is predicted to a grow to a point that will surpass your favourite apps such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Celebrities and citizens alike have hopped on the app to express their creativity with funny videos being shared all over the internet mostly during this lockdown.
The future of technology promises great possibilities for the world. With this growth, there is an urgent need to tighten the reins on laws that protect the public’s privacy and information data.
Let us enjoy the fruits of innovative creativity with our eyes and ears open!