Data Privacy Concerns Put TikTok’s China Connections Back in the Spotlight

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We haven’t talked about this in a while but it looks like TikTok’s connections to China are becoming an issue once again, at least as far as data privacy is concerned.

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Smartphone with TikTok logo on black field with flag of the PRC in background. Photo by Solen Feyissa

Buzzfeed News reports that a leak of internal meetings at TikTok details how US user data was accessed from China and how to “close off access to sensitive information.” 

TikTok parent company ByteDance hired experts to help TikTok close off any backdoor access but that was found to be quite the impossible task as it seems like everything could still be seen in China by a so-called master admin. 

If you will recall, former US President Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the United States, citing data privacy concerns among other issues during a pretty tense period of trade relations with the People’s Republic.

And, when discussing the extent to which people in China may have had access, TikTok execs might have downplayed the situation compared to what was actually going on behind the scenes, Buzzfeed reports. 

To their credit, ByteDance is currently moving to close off this access entirely with something called Project Texas, referring to a data center located in the state of Texas to be administered by Oracle and with access to data given only to a select number of US TikTok employees. 

Data privacy advocates point to the close relationships between tech companies and the government in China and worry that this might extend well beyond the borders of the PRC itself. Nonetheless, TikTok remains one of the world’s most popular apps and is likely to stay that way for some time thus underpinning concerns about data security but also highlighting the relatively minimal impact those worries have had on the app’s dominance. 

If you have any thoughts about TikTok, let us know in the comments below.

Check out some of our other photography news on Light Stalking at this link right here.

[Buzzfeed News]

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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