TikTok: The data collection debates in a nutshell

TikTok: The data collection debates in a nutshell

ByteDance is TikTok’s parent company, and it has its main headquarters in China. It is also known that the app collects more data than it should. Where does this debate end? TikTok collects a variety of users’ data with their consent, including location data and your internet address.

As mentioned in their privacy policy: “We automatically collect certain information from you when you use the Platform, including internet or other network activity information such as your IP address, geolocation-related data.”

TikTok also stated in their Privacy Policy, that they collect data from other social media apps that users subscribe to, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the likes. However, Instagram collects a similar amount of data from its users, including daily communications on the app, location, networks and connections with other people through hashtags and messages, product purchases, financial transactions as well as device information such as your device attributes, operations, Bluetooth signals and such.

TikTok’s data collection and privacy policy concerns have been the argument of the year 2020 ― TikTok is taking too much of any user’s identity. It follows with some questions: If others are taking our data, why is TikTok the biggest of our problems?

The Washington Post’s columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler hired a technology officer from a privacy company to place TikTok’s data collection issue under a microscope. According to the technology officer, there is “approximately 210 network requests in the first nine seconds, totalling over 500 kilobytes of data sent from the app to the Internet. (That’s equivalent to half a megabyte, or 125 pages of typed data.) Much of it was information about the phone (like screen resolution and the Apple advertising identifier) that could be used to “fingerprint” your device even when you’re not logged in.” Unfortunately, since the debate from the beginning of the year 2020 till the end of the awful year of the Covid-19 pandemic, users do not have a definite answer if China is in control of the global app. TikTok has over 200 million users in India and has taken over generation Z in the USA. The larger fear is not how much data TikTok is collecting, but is the data being shared with China’s communist government and used for propaganda?

According to the Australian Strategic Policy Institue in their research (title), TikTok has angered many nations, including Indonesia and India. The UK and the US. The company has also made more than 5 million USD worth of settlement to the Federal Trade Commission to violate Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. In addition to that, Washington Post interviewed 6 ex-employees of TikTok and they claimed that TikTok office in Beijing has control over censorship decisions. However, this has been denied by ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok. This debate could go on. According to the same research by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, it was identified that ByteDance is in collaboration with public security bureaus in China and particularly in Xinjiang (an area where the dissemination of the nation’s propaganda is the most active).

Unfortunately, all leads seem to suggest that our data is being shared with multiple different sources. If ByteDance is truly sharing our information with the Chinese government, other apps may be sharing it to other parties unknowing to their users. Therefore, it is often essential to regulate younger children’s access to devices.

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