We’re seeing right now that TikTok – the popular video sharing app – has become a geopolitical flashpoint due to fears of spying on users and its massive data gathering abilities.
While Facebook, Google, and countless other Silicon Valley tech firms have been caught collecting information on its users, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, actually has direct ties to the communist government of China.
But now, after coming under fire around the world, the controversial app is making a shocking move.
TikTok has been caught multiple times using backdoor methods to find flaws in operating software and acquire massive amounts of data from individuals who have downloaded the app.
For example, Apple just caught TikTok red-handed secretly using their iOS clipboard to track behavior and use geo-locater trackers.
According to TikTok, the issue is now “triggered by a feature designed to identify repetitive, spammy behavior” and TikTok has “already submitted an updated version of the app to the App Store, removing the anti-spam feature to eliminate any potential confusion.”
In essence, TikTok was saying they were sorry, but only because they got caught.
But many are waking up to this behavior.
India just banned TikTok and dozens of other apps produced by Chinese tech firms due to a skirmish on the India-China border. However, many analysts predict the ban won’t last long and there will be 125 million users in India by the end of 2020.
Countries need to wake up that this application has sinister ulterior motives, but the casual smartphone owner is simply apathetic towards the issue. It’s all speculation as to how the People’s Republic of China is utilizing the information – but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out they’ll use it against us at some point.
However, now we’re learning that TikTok is reportedly trying to distance itself from the Chinese communist party.
Bloomberg reports that TikTok has begun evaluating changes in its corporate structure in order to combat the negative press, including creating a new management board to establish headquarters outside of Beijing, China.
Right now, TikTok and parent company ByteDance are headquartered in the same building and incorporated in the Cayman Islands. If that wasn’t suspicious enough, they’re actively searching for office space in Los Angeles, New York, London, Dublin, and Singapore.
In a statement, TikTok said, “We will move forward in the best interest of our users, employees, artists, creators, partners, and policy makers.”
This comes after growing skepticism from U.S. lawmakers and President Donald Trump who are looking to ban the app as possible retaliation against China for their handling of the coronavirus.
For instance, in October 2019, Senator Marco Rubio called on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to review the acquisition of TikTok by ByteDance, stating in a letter that, “they are increasingly being used to censor content and silence open discussion on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese Government and Communist Party.”
Even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Tom Cotton teamed up to investigate the “national security risks” imposed by TikTok and ByteDance.
Schumer and Cotton wrote, “With over 110 million downloads in the U.S. alone, TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore. Given these concerns, we ask that the Intelligence Community conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S. and brief Congress on these findings.”
This isn’t a partisan issue. Both Republicans and Democrats want to squash this before mass data is in the hands of a ruthless regime. There is no grey area here.
The question now is whether we can take TikTok’s word about distancing themselves from Beijing.
The short answer? Probably not.