TikTok, of recently has been in the news for which most have been controversial ones. Yet again, the social media app from Chinese tech company, ByteDance, has been reportedly collecting the MAC addresses of millions of Android phones without user consent or approval.
According to mobile security experts quoted by The Wall Street Journal, the app was using an “unusual added layer of encryption” for its covert data-collection that the report says violated the Google Play Store’s privacy policies. The app, however, discontinued the practice in November, says the report.
Collecting data secretly is one of the thing that landed TikTok in trouble in its two largest markets – India and the United States. While the app has already been banned in the former as part of larger crackdown on Chinese apps, the US president has threatened similar action if ByteDance refused to sell-off the US operations of the app to a US-based owner by September 15.
Meanwhile, in response to the WSJ’s questions on its data-collection practices, ByteDance said that it is:
“committed to protecting the privacy and safety of the TikTok community”. “Like our peers, we constantly update our app to keep up with evolving security challenges”, it said. The company didn’t deny the report, but claimed that “the current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses”.
Google has not release an official statement on the matter.
With the possible imminent ban in the US, TikTok is in frantic negotiations with Microsoft to sell its US operations. The Redmond giant has already confirmed that it is in talks with the beleaguered Chinese company for a deal that could be in billions of dollars. In fact, Microsoft is also reportedly looking to buy the app’s India operations, although, there’s not a lot of info on that front at this point.