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TikTok accused of gathering private user data and sending it to China

04 December 2019

Chinese short-video making platform TikTok, has been accused by a college student from Palo Alto, in a class-action lawsuit, of gathering private user data to and sending it to servers in China.

The popular video app TikTok has been hit with a lawsuit claiming it stole user information without knowledge or consent, then transferred the data to Chinese servers.

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Last week, a consumer class action lawsuit was filed against TikTok in California, USA.

Increasing skepticism of TikTok from both lawmakers and the American public suggest that TikTok - once seen as a social-media upstart taking on the likes of Facebook and Twitter with its quirky and entertaining short-video format - now faces a rite of passage that is both reminiscent of the privacy challenges plaguing American tech giants and the national-security scrutiny often associated with such Chinese companies as Huawei Technologies. The lawsuit also stressed that after the defendant downloaded TikTok in spring 2019, the app made an account for her using her phone number, again without her consent, and created a profile of her by analyzing videos she never posted.

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Information gleaned from the accounts include facial scans, birthdays, phone and social network contacts, browsing history and more, according to the suit. "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 USA and brief Congress on these findings".

Hong claims in the suit that the transfer happened in between the time in which the user records a video and when it's uploaded.

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A new lawsuit alleges that social media app TikTok sent "vast quantities" of data on American users to China. This allowed it to access user data and send it to Chinese servers, including those run by Tencent and Alibaba Group Holdings. As the amount of downloads grows, concerns are rising for TikTok users who have recently learned that Chinese law grants authorities in Beijing wide-reaching search-and-seizure powers. Currently, TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is facing pressure from the US Government, facing an investigation by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

TikTok accused of gathering private user data and sending it to China