NEWS & EVENT

BOSTON25NEWS: Lawsuit alleges app TikTok

Administrator
4 Dec 2019


One of the biggest social media apps is facing breach of privacy allegations in a recent lawsuit.

Chinese app TikTok is being accused of accessing a U.S. user's personal information to create an account for her without her consent.

The app, commonly used by teenagers to produce "15-second videos of fun activities like dancing, lip-syncing and stunts" has also become one of the most downloaded and popular apps in the United States.

The class action lawsuit, filed by California college student Misty Hong last week, claims TikTok "clandestinely... vacuumed up and transferred to servers in China vast quantities of private and personally-identifiable user data".

Hong says that, while she downloaded the app, she never made an account. Months later, she found out the app had created one for her, which she believes was only possible by the app accessing stored data in her cellphone such as her location, contacts, private messages and IP address.

According to the student, TikTok also sent that information to servers in China.

"In short, TikTok's lighthearted fun comes at a heavy cost," the lawsuit says.

Cybersecurity experts say they are concerned about the allegations in the lawsuit, where many have been calling it a threat to national security.

"Anything can be weaponized in the digital society," said Dr. Kyung-Shick Choi, Director of Cybercrime and Cybersecurity at Boston University. "So our information can be used against us. There are so many possibilities that can be used and that's my major concern. It's happening all the time but again, I couldn't believe a huge company like TikTok - they're actually doing it - it's a big surprise."

Dr. Choi works with law enforcement and the U.S. government on fighting cyber crime, but even he was surprised to find out the allegations against TikTok.

"In terms of national security concerns this is a very important case," said Dr. Choi.

The lawsuit alleges the data collected by the app could be used to identify, profile and track users, whether that happens now or in the future.

While the allegations are concerning and users everywhere should be aware of the dangers the app poses, Choi says there are ways you can protect either yourself or others who use the app.

Users are urged to go to their phone settings, chose the TikTok app and disable app access to your location, contacts, camera and photos.

"If you allow privilege using this app to allow to see pictures and everything of course you are fully exposed," said Dr. Choi.

In a bi-partisan letter written in October, U.S. senators asked the director of national intelligence to conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by the app.

Boston 25 News has reached out to TikTok for a statement but has not heard back.

However, representatives for the app have previously said that all data collected from U.S. users is stored in their U.S. databases.

The app has recently come under fire for blocking a U.S. teenager after she posted a video criticizing China's treatment of the Uighur Muslims.

Center for Cybercrime Investigation
and Cybersecurity

Director : Kyung-shick Choi
Main Office : 46 Warren Ave, Milton, MA 02186

Training Center : 30 JFK Street (3rd Floor), Cambridge, MA 02138

TEL :  617-358-2807  |  FAX : 617-358-3595
EMAIL : admin@centercicboston.org


Copyright 2018 Center for CIC | Resource Guide for Global Cybersecurity Research & Training | All Rights Reserved |
Privacy at Center for CIC

CONTACT US

admin@centercicboston.org

Center for Cybercrime Investigation and Cybersecurity

Director : Kyung-shick Choi  |  Main Office : 46 Warren Ave, Milton, MA 02186
Training Center : 30 JFK Street (3rd Floor), Cambridge, MA 02138

TEL :  617-358-2807  |  FAX : 617-358-3595  |  EMAIL : admin@centercicboston.org


Copyright 2018 Center for CIC  | Resource Guide for Global Cybersecurity Research & Training | All Rights Reserved
Privacy at Center for CIC

CONTACT US

admin@centercicboston.org