Category Archives: TikTok

We will cover all news related to the Chinese social network TikTok.

Chinese social network TikTok is accused of collecting information without the knowledge of its users

At the heart of a controversy, the Chinese social network TikTok has not been at all discreet about this one.

Indeed, already accused several times of spying on behalf of the Chinese state, the latter would, for advertising purposes, use a security loophole to collect certain information relating to users' terminals in particular MAC addresses. This is not possible without the latter giving their explicit and voluntary consent.

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Although the Chinese app has stopped using this trick since November 2019, it will still be tainted by this irregularity. According to the latest information, the social network has used this tactic of illegal data collection for nearly 15 months.

This information was revealed by the Wall Street Journal, which is in his writings means that TikTok has literally hijacked the information for nearly 1 year. The users who were targeted according to the U.S. media were smartphone users running under Google's OS, Android. This is literally akin to computer hacking when you know that the consent of the latter was not required during that time. The American newspaper reports that the practice would have ceased as of November 18, 2019.

The reason the social network has been interested in the MAC addresses of its users' smartphones is simply because it is an identifier specific to the network card of each device connected to the Internet. It can be a smartphone from a tablet, a games console or even a computer. Because of its uniqueness, this address will allow the user to be identified persistently, because he is unable to change it or even reset it.

Thus, collecting this information increases the advertising potential of the platform that participates in it. And that may be a real source of income. Indeed, MAC addresses allow" to "establish consumer behaviour profiles that persist despite any privacy measures," read the website 9to5Google. In this case, the only way the user can free himself from a follow-up would unfortunately be to change terminals.

Regarding the collection of the MAC address, it should be noted that since 2015 the American giant Google, has formally banned it on its Android platform. Even with the user's consent, the practice is formally banned by the American giant. These latter require applications in its online store the PlayStore not to collect "personal information identifiable or associated with a permanent identification device." The club rules of course as well MAC addresses as IMEI addresses and many others. And of course the rule obviously was violated by the Chinese social network. According to the Wall Street Journal, TikTok allegedly used "an extra and unusual layer of encryption" to hide the information it collected from users of its Android app. An encryption that unfortunately brings nothing more for the security of this personal information collected. If of course it is difficult to make it difficult to potential examinations carried out by a third party, to inquire about the information that was collected by the application.

When questioned by journalists from the American daily, Chinese social network executives were quick to comment. They simply mentioned that the "current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses." On the Google side, it has been indicated that a thorough examination will be given to clear up my shadowy part in this case.

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Are TikTok and WeChat threats to American security?

For a long time, US President Donald Trump has never hidden his animosity towards certain Chinese applications, especially WeChat and TikTok.

While he usually mentions the issue of computer security, some people believe, especially the Chinese authorities, that behind this other motives could be the reason for the actions of the American president.

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"There is no justification for banning an application just because it is Chinese," said Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. He later added: "Charges of security risks must be supported by strong evidence, not baseless insinuations." He fears that Donald Trump's actions against Chinese technology may one day backfire on big American companies. "They're going to lose global market share if other countries start applying the same rules and blocking U.S. companies because they're afraid of being watched by the U.S.," he said.

Last Thursday, the US President signed an executive order banning the two Chinese applications, TikTok and WeChat, within 45 days. Prohibiting here any transaction with persons who are under U.S. jurisdiction with the parent companies of these companies. Whether byeDance or Tencent, both will see their apps remove from official stores such as Google's PlayStore or Apple's Appstore.

For some who support Donald Trump's position, it is invoked "a national emergency." The argument is simple and classic. Chinese applications are colluding with it in order to tighten the data of U.S. users to Chinese servers to be processed. They argue that the TikTok and WeChat apps "pose more of a political problem than a security threat," as Nicholas Weaver, a professor of computer security at the University of California, describes it.

There's no denying it, it's app actually collecting data from their million users around the world. WeChat, for example, stores this data on servers based in China. It is then known that in 2017, a law that was passed in the Asian state allows the intelligence service to have access to the contents of servers located in Chinese territory.

"WeChat uses encrypted links to its servers in China, but these servers can read them, and so can the Chinese government," the computer security professor acknowledges.

The problem is that there is no alternative for Chinese applications. Indeed, the banning of these communication tools could affect Americans who have acquaintances or relatives in China. The last one will no longer be able to make contact with them. "By banning WeChat, it's going to stop Americans from communicating with friends or relatives in China, which is a horrible idea," he says.

As for Tiktok, a very famous application especially at the youth level, it then forms as a "massive data aspiration operation", and of course nothing changes here from other American social networks. "Of course the Chinese government can access it, but like the U.S. government," he says.

For Nicholas Weaver, this kind of present application of really dangerous pass, at least users are well aware of the risks. So he believes, banning it altogether is not the best solution. If the U.S. authorities see these applications as a problem, they can simply reduce the risks "better communicate with U.S. companies to call them to be vigilant, and configure government systems to avoid risks (…) Real security threats (and there are ones) are better managed in discretion."

But even before the ban takes effect, both applications should not be installed by any U.S. official or official, as Adam Segal, the director of the Digital Security Program at the Council on Foreign Relations, believes. However, he believes that the ban "is not an essential action to increase cybersecurity." According to them, Donald Trump "seems motivated by his sense of technological competition with the Chinese and his desire to be firm towards China in the run-up to the election." And from the beginning the U.S. administration "was very clear when it said that we were going to compete with China and that we had to contain it" however: "It didn't say clearly what it expected from China. ».

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Chinese social network TikTok in the crosshairs of Quebec authorities

Zhang Yiming's fortune is estimated at US$16.2 billion, or nearly C$22 billion.

It is ranked according to Forbes magazine, as one of the 100 biggest fortunes in the world. He is the founder and head of the parent company of the famous social network TikTok, ByteDance. The social network that has since been noted, for a time, at the heart of controversies in the United States and Europe, is now making a name for itself in The Canadian lands. It should be noted that Donald Trump's administration in the United States has always threatened to banish TikTok even in the midst of a coronavirus crisis, or the application has been an undeniable success. And the reason would be that the latter could serve as a spy crank for the Chinese government. This concern, unfortunately for TikTok, is becoming more widespread.

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Recently, a cybersecurity expert mentioned that the same problem presents itself as a reality for Quebec businesses. "TikTok has already passed information on to the Chinese government, like Zoom. In a business environment, the tool can help them get to know manufacturers better," warned computer security specialist and university lecturer Steve Waterhouse.

Since the beginning of 2020, Donald Trump's administration has been analyzing several possibilities to ban the Chinese entertainment app, TikTok, in a context where political and economic tensions are at the heart of U.S.-China relations. In an interview with host Greta Van Susteren, regarding Tiktok, which now has nearly $800 million, the US President mentioned that this was still being analysed and that the possibility must be taken into account.

Despite all these threats, the entertainment platform already announced that it was creating a space for small and medium-sized businesses to create and clip ads based on the application's models.

As everywhere else in the world, the entertainment app is attracting more and more, especially in the youngest, pre-teens. And that's what worries Steve Waterhouse, the computer security specialist who is also a lecturer at the University of Sherbrooke. "Quebec companies should avoid using TikTok to reduce the risk of their industrial secrets being stolen. Especially since China has an interest in undermining Canada because it has had a dispute since the arrest of Meng Wanzhou and the two Canadians imprisoned there," he warned.

According to our expert, with the information collected by the application, it will be possible for the Chinese intelligence services to make portraits of business activities, and even of public administration. One can take the example of a contractor who allows the application to have access to his contacts. "It's not science fiction anymore, it's what happens in 2020," said Steve Waterhouse, who poses the problem of misinformation that can arise through the app.

When questioned by the media, the Canadian government refused to rule on a potential ban on TikTok in Canada. Without excluding it either. "Our world is highly connected and, now more than ever, technology plays an incredibly important role in our daily lives. Our government continues to work closely with agencies and technology leaders to ensure the protection of Canadians and our computer systems," said Defence Minister Mary-Liz Power's press secretary.

As for the entertainment app, no statement was made. To believe that this moment is a period of observation on both sides, on the part of the government and the Chinese application.

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Tiktok case: Chinese giant opens 'Transparency Centre'

At the heart of a controversy over the management of its users' personal data, the Chinese social network TikTok decides to mark a big coup, in Los Angeles, in the very heart of the United States.

Through its founder, Chinese billionaire Zhang Yiming, the entertainment company decided to open a center in the United States that will allow any expert with the required clearance to not only monitor data collection, but also to have the ability to monitor how the social network manages and uses it. The "transparency centre" is primarily intended to reassure Western consumers, especially Americans, who have repeatedly questioned TikTok's integrity, with several accusations about the relationship between the social network and the Chinese government.

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The opening date of this centre is scheduled for May of this year. It will first focus mainly on management of the digital reputation of the social network, and moderation content proposed by the latter. Thereafter, we can expect a some access days such as the source code that will be gradually unveiled and also all the rules to which the application would be subject. However, the people who will have the applications required to work have not yet been designated or the profile revealed.

When questioned, one of the Vanessa Pappas said: "We want the social centre to transparency functions as a forum where experts will be able to provide a productive return on our services. The industry is growing very quickly and it is true that the operating system of the application is not beyond reproach, which is why it is important for us to be ready to constantly renew themselves. »

But the main question of whether whether that will be enough to calm the ardour of the US administration, which has always apply the TikTok app in their sights. With this 24 million user-per-day, it is one of the most widely used social networks in the world. world. And this has only increased Americans' suspicion of this social network from China. We remember that last year, U.S. authorities had launched several security investigations into the TikTok. It had even been banned from some people for use such as military and law enforcement authorities. Some members of the American political class have gone so far as to call for even the banning of U.S. territory, in this case Senator Josh Hawley republican.

To denying all these suspicions, TikTok had already published a report last December transparency about its activities and its management of the personal data of its users. Proof that the social network really takes into account and attacks by the US authorities.

Moreover, it should be noted that the Chinese company has repeatedly stated that it will not disclose any information from U.S. users to the Chinese government, even though Chinese law has required it to do so since 2017.

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TikTok accused of misappropriation of personal data to China

The Chinese-born entertainment app is once again back in the spotlight.

For some time now, the app has been increasingly criticized by some people who feel it is not so innocent as it wants to make it believe. This time, she is the subject of a class action initiated a few days ago in California. The reasons for this action would be that the social network would transmit data from its users to China without any anonymization procedures, even using user data or context.

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What are the risks that TikTok users run with these 15 seconds of videos?Or exactly "15 seconds of video for how much personal data sent to China? The class action, which was allegedly initiated exactly last week near the federal court in the state of California, questioned.

The plaintiffs' contention would be that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese group ByteDance, would consist of a "Chinese software surveillance system" that would allow the illicit and secret collection of a large mass of users' personal data with a view to transmitting it to the Chinese state. Apparently, the data that could have been collected by the Chinese group is likely to make it easy to identify users.

Besides, we're not going to fool ourselves. This kind of accusation this is not at all new since the popular app for teenagers has already several times been accused of this kind of package.

According to the terms of the class action against Tik tok, an entertainment app would allow us to tap into some files that have not been published by the users, such as video broth. TikTok and also accuse of having instituted a policy of confidentiality considered by the complainants to be "ambiguous," which would allow the Chinese group to track U.S. users, profile and identify them. all this alleged espionage would allow TikTok to design targeted advertising strategies for U.S. death victims. « TikTok's innocent amusement is paid a high price," stressed the lawsuit filed at the end of November.

According to Misty Hong, a TikTok user, who is behind the collective action, the Chinese group "takes advantage of videos filmed from its app to collect biometric data on its users (thanks to the many faces filmed in close-ups). These videos are exploited in an opaque manner without the user's consent and even before the user has backed up or shared those clips on the platform. explaining the complaint. To confirm her claims, American student explains that he has never created an account on social networks.

It was only a few months after installing the app on his smartphone that TikTok would have automatically created an account through which the Chinese company siphoned him some personal data including recorded videos never published. This data, which was subsequently collected, was immediately transferred to Chinese servers.

Apparently the app would glean information about its users even when it is closed. And among this data (supposedly gleaned) there would be phone numbers, usernames, email addresses, IP addresses, and also geolocation.

When questioned by the media, the social network has not yet spoken. On the complainant's side initiating the action, she avoids comment at this time and awaits the outcome of the case near the courts. what is certain, the case continues to be more and more publicized. A lot of media is talking about it and you wonder how it could end.

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