Science & Tech

Here's what data TikTok collects from its users

Here's what data TikTok collects from its users
FCC wants to remove TikTok from app stores

Some have called for Gen Z’s favourite app TikTok to be banned from phones in America over fears about the data it accesses.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner, Brendan Carr, has issued a warning to tech companies, urging them to remove TikTok from US app stores.

It comes as security concerns were raised after a Buzzfeed investigation revealed leaked audio from TikTok meetings that suggested China had been accessing US users’ data.

Data that TikTok has access to includes gathering information on who/where you are, what your preferences are and what content you consume on your devices.

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Whether or not you have signed up for an account on the app, the moment you access the site, cookies and other trackers are able to track you.

If you create an account, TikTok can gather even more information about you, your activity and your preferences.

The app can determine your location, the device you're using, your IP address, search history, your message content and what content you're watching and for how long.

Some have called on TikTok to be banned in the USWakil Kohsar / various sources / AFP via Getty

In the US, TikTok can collect biometric data including your face and voiceprint. It can also predict your age, gender and interests based on your activity.

The app also has access to your device's clipboard including text, images and video. It can also collect the metadata for content that you might make on the app but decide to not publish and delete.

Carr expressed concern on Twitter and, in a thread, called for major phone companies to take action in puling the app over national security concerns.

Carr wrote: “TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing. It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.

“I’ve called on @Apple & @Google to remove TikTok from their app stores for its pattern of surreptitious data practices."

Carr continued: “TikTok doesn’t just see its users dance videos.

“It collects search and browsing histories, keystroke patterns, biometric identifiers, draft messages and metadata, plus it has collected the text, images, and videos that are stored on a device's clipboard.”

The social media app is banned on US government devices to limit the ability for covert espionage by China.

TikTok is developed by ByteDance, which is partly owned by the Chinese state. The company has previously faced criticism over its links with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Carr’s letter cited a BuzzFeed News report which stated that recordings of TikTok employee statements suggested Chinese engineers had access to U.S. data between September last year and January.

Responding to the BuzzFeed report, a TikTok spokesperson told Indy100: "We will gladly engage with lawmakers to set the record straight regarding BuzzFeed's misleading reporting. Like many global companies, TikTok has engineering teams around the world. We employ access controls like encryption and security monitoring to secure user data, and the access approval process is overseen by our US-based security team. TikTok has consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to U.S. user data on an as-needed basis under those strict controls."

They added: "Recent reporting by BuzzFeed shows that TikTok is doing exactly what it said it would: addressing concerns around access to U.S. user data by employees outside the U.S. We've been clear and vocal about our work in this area as we seek to address both location and access to data. We're pleased that we now route 100% of U.S. user traffic to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and we are continuing to work on additional safeguards on U.S. data for improved peace of mind for our community."

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