Is the Tik Tok app a Spyware Time Bomb?

Clients have been asking if Tik Tok, a video app popular with adults and very much so with young users, is a danger. There are two separate issues here:

  1. Tik Tok is owned by a Chinese company. China’s National Intelligence Law, effective July 2017, creates the “obligation of Chinese citizens to support national intelligence work”. This means companies, even honest ones, can be required to turn over data to the government — without regard to any privacy commitments they have made to you. Most online companies already take great liberties with your personal data. Remember: on the internet, if you’re getting something for free, you’re not the customer — you’re the product! Under this law, however, the Chinese government has your data just for the asking, and from a foreign viewpoint there are no effective limits on how it can be used. For this reason, some individuals, companies, and agencies do not allow use of the Tik Tok app, among other Chinese products, even though there is no evidence that it collects any more data from you than dozens of other phone apps.
  2. The second issue is downright dangerous. The Tik Tok Pro app is a fraud. Designed to look just like the real Tik Tok, it takes over your entire phone. You definitely don’t want to install this! When downloading Tik Tok, do it only from a reliable source such as Google Play or the Apple Store AND be sure the publisher is “Tik Tok Inc.”, nothing else.

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