TikTok tracked Android devices in direct violation of Google's policy

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Aug 12, 2020, 10.54 AM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

This is in direct violation of Google’s data policies, and reportedly this data logging went on for 15 months

Chinese social media giant TikTok allegedly collected user data to identify and track devices on the Android operating software.

This is in direct violation of Google’s data policies, and reportedly this data logging went on for 15 months.

Also read: US ban on TikTok could cut it off from app stores, advertisers

The investigation, undertaken by the Wall Street Journal reveals that the company trackers users online by identifying the devices. Additionally, TikTok did not inform the users of this monitoring and no option for opting out of this was given.

Until the app received an update in November 2019, the company had been collecting the MAC addresses from Android devices.

Collecting data banned

Collecting addresses and related data has been banned on Apple and Google for years. But many companies were able to bypass Google’s security measures in place by identifying a loophole. TikTok was among 347 companies who collected such data without user permission.

Also read: China accuses US of 'political manipulation' over TikTok, WeChat ban

The report claims that such addresses are stores from gaming applications to curate person specific advertisements.

TikTok is currently facing a global boycott. India became the first country to officially ban the app, after a border skirmish with China, citing a threat to national sovereignty. Following suit, the US has put the application on the spot for its data security loopholes.

TikTok under pressure

Through an executive order, US President Donald Trump has set September 20 as the deadline for the company to sell off its US operations to an American country, after which it may face a blanket ban.

Trump administration had alleged that the company provides user data to the Chinese government, and he fears that the parent company ByteDance could compromise the security of American citizens.

Also read: TikTok threatens legal action in US court over Trump's executive order

In response, TikTok had repeatedly denied giving data to the Chinese government, and instead claimed that American companies like Google and Facebook undertake way more data collection than the Chinese company.

Reports suggested that Twitter and Microsoft have both shown interest in acquiring the US operations of TikTok. But ByteDance’s CEO Zhang Yiming has threatened legal action against Trump’s “unreasonable” order.