FBI Director Says Tiktok Poses National Security Concerns
TikTok has always been problematic, and not just for parents of teenagers to worry about the latest dangerous trend. The bigger issue is that the app is owned by Byte Dance, a Chinese company. And, as the Director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, just reminded lawmakers,
“Chinese companies are required to essentially do, whatever the Chinese government wants them to do in terms of sharing information or serving as a tool of the Chinese government.”
Because China is troublesome, TikTok is also problematic. Furthermore, the FBI is treating it seriously.
According to Wray, one of the issues is
“The potential for the Chinese government to utilize it to manage data gathering on millions of individuals.”
To manipulate the software on millions of devices, which provides it the opportunity to possibly technically hack personal devices, or to control the recommendation algorithm, which might be used for influence operations if they so desired. That alone should be cause for great alarm, Wray continued. He’s right, and everyone needs to think about it.
To be honest, there is little chance that the Chinese government would utilize TikTok to directly exploit technology. Google has a procedure for screening applications that is similar to Apple’s App Store Review process, both of which aim to maintain rigorous control over the software that can be installed on iPhones and guard against the compromise of your device by harmful malware. Additionally, applications operate in a sandbox on the iPhone, prohibiting them from accessing data or other apps.
The greater worry is that China may capture and store information on American residents using the app’s user data. Furthermore, China can exert pressure on the business to change its algorithm in order to show information that aims to influence people.
The TikTok traffic for American users would all be routed through Oracle servers, according to a contract proposed by the Biden Administration. The business would probably also check the security of TikTok’s algorithm.
In the past, the Trump administration attempted to entirely restrict WeChat and another Chinese app, TikTok. This set off a chain of weird occurrences that may have involved Microsoft purchasing TikTok. In the end, it didn’t happen, and Oracle was picked as a substitute to protect American customers’ data in a way.
The email address and phone number are among the contact details TikTok gathers, along with information on your browser history, app usage patterns, the videos you interact with, and your location, according to the privacy notice label in the iOS App Store. If you wanted to target particular people, all of the information would be useful.
According to TikTok, developers in China only currently have access to publicly available data, such as publicly available movies or comments. It is intended for user data to be walled off.
Problematic data includes location data in particular. TikTok truly doesn’t have a requirement for your location in order to display your random dance videos.
Even if you consider applications collecting your data to be the cost of using free services, this is far different from an app collecting your data and giving it to an adversarial government. This is not to imply that TikTok is malicious. I’m not sure if anyone at Byte Dance or TikTok is interested in what videos you view or where you are when you watch them.
The fact that the business has no other options is the only thing that matters. TikTok will be required to turn over all of its user data if China demands it.
It’s just another illustration of why your most precious asset is trust. No one now believes in TikTok because no one trusts China. As “spying” on its customers would be bad for business, the corporation has very little incentive to do so. However, it is inextricably connected to a government that routinely monitors its own citizens.