TikTok, one of the most popular apps right now, has been downloaded more than 2 billion times.
But there are growing privacy concerns surrounding the app, as State Sen. Chris Jacobs explains.
“The way TikTok is designed, it takes a lot of information from every single user and nearly everything that you have on your digital device,” Senator Jacobs explained. “And the Communist Party has free reign, really, in accessing any of that information.”
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a tech company based in Beijing. The app lets users post short dances, lip-sync, and comedy videos, but has come under fire for the type of information it can take from your phone.
Ben Jordan, a security specialist at GreyCastle Security, says the app has access to more than you might think.
“It actually has a lot of access to different parts of your device,” Jordan explained. “It says it can read the contents of your USB storage; it can modify or delete contents of your USB storage; it might look at what other apps you have running on your phone. It can read your contact information; it can control your flashlight, create accounts, and set passwords.”
The U.S. Army and Navy have already banned service members from downloading the app to government-issued phones. India has just recently banned the app, and now the U.S. is thinking of banning it as well.
Jacobs is sponsoring a bill in the state legislature that would ban the use of TikTok on any government-issued devices.
“We’re realizing that we have to be much more protective and aware of China,” Jacobs said. “And when I say China, I mean the Chinese Communist party, because they are the ones that run that country and really control everything. And TikTok is one example where they have means and the right within their country to be able to access any information that’s mined.”
While there are privacy concerns with almost any app you use, Jordan says his advice is to know what information on your phone is being shared with these companies, and to weigh the risk.
“If you feel comfortable and that’s something that you’re OK with, sharing a video on TikTok and posting a video of you dancing or something, then so be it,” Jordan said. “But you do need to understand what kind of information outside of that video you might be sharing.”
Jacobs, who won Western New York’s Congressional Republican primary and is the expected winner of the special election for that seat, says this is also a bill he hopes to take with him to Congress to implement on a federal level.