India has already blocked a list of Chinese-made phone apps for security reasons. According to Sec. Pompeo, the USA may follow suit.
TikTok, if you don’t already know, is a hugely popular phone app favored by the younger generation. It generates a lot of dance clips (like those COVID Nurses dancing in the hospitals), it was used by that ‘OK Boomer’ Bernie Bro girl, and it was used this week for an Anti-American reworking of “Proud to be an American.
You get the idea.
It’s been used in all kinds of annoying ways. But that’s not really the issue. The problem is that it snoops around at other activities on your phone and records them. Like your phone’s clipboard.
Here is a video by Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia, who posts about tech on social media. It shows how iOS 14’s new paste notification reveals that TikTok is capturing keystrokes.
(it's a beta, so I'm not complaining, just…observing in public)
— Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) June 24, 2020
Okay so TikTok is grabbing the contents of my clipboard every 1-3 keystrokes. iOS 14 is snitching on it with the new paste notification pic.twitter.com/OSXP43t5SZ
— Jeremy Burge (@jeremyburge) June 24, 2020
(Did we mention this app was made by a CHINESE company, who is legally obligated to share any information in their control with the Chinese Communist Party?)
Mike Pompeo was asked whether USA would be banning Chinese Apps, the way that India has.
“We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it was the problem of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure. We’ve gone all over the world and we’re making process getting it out. We declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” said Pompeo. “We’ve done all of these things. With respect to Chinese apps on American cellphones, I can assure you the U.S. will get this one right too.”
TikTok is a short-form video app owned by China-based ByteDance, but is not available in China. —Fox Business
Sec. Pompeo when asked if the Administration has considered banning TikTok: “We’re certainly looking at it.” pic.twitter.com/N9NmbDOka0
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 7, 2020
TikTok is very popular among the under-30 crowd to create short, videos set to music. Lawmakers in many countries are concerned, however, that data collected by the app is being sent directly to Beijing and the authoritarian regime there. It is also believed that the app censors content that is critical of China’s history of human rights abuses and is being used to paint a very different picture of the Chinese Communist Party to the young and easily influenced around the world.
Now that TikTok is facing increased international scrutiny, they’re working to repair their reputation.
Bytedance has denied that any data collected by TikTok has been handed over to Beijing, and its headquarters in Hong Kong helped with that perception. The tech giant has said that it would never hand over data to the CCP, but the new national security laws passed in Hong Kong, that has all changed. The new laws give China sweeping control over Hong Kong and the companies that operate there. TikTok has therefore decided to cease operations in Hong Kong in the next few days.
TikTok is owned by the Beijing tech giant ByteDance and has been eager to show lawmakers in the U.S. and elsewhere that people can trust it with their personal data.
“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations” in Hong Kong, a TikTok spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
TikTok has always been intended for the international market, with ByteDance offering a separate version of the platform, called Douyin, to users in mainland China.
The move follows announcements by some Western tech firms that they would review their activities in Hong Kong in the wake of the new national security law signed last week.
The question is–will this be enough?
Bytedance has developed an app that grabs heaps of user info. One researcher claims that TikTok is a data collection app disguised as a social network, and that they try to hide what they are collecting.
ArsTechnica reported in late June that even though it was being publicly reported in March that TikTok was collecting vast amounts of very sensitive user data, the app “continues to access some of Apple users’ most sensitive data, which can include passwords, cryptocurrency wallet addresses, account-reset links, and personal messages.” (Emphasis added.)
When asked by Laura Ingraham if people should download TikTok onto their phones, Secretary Pompeo replied, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”