Tuesday, 21 Mar 2023

TikTok denies report data used to track or target US citizens

TikTok denies report data used to track or target US citizens

TikTok denies report data used to track or target US citizens

TikTok has denied it is used to "target" US citizens following a report that its Chinese parent planned to track the location of people via the video-sharing app.

A report by Forbes on Thursday claimed that, in at least two cases, a China-based team at ByteDance, the platform's owner, planned to collect TikTok data about the location of a US citizen.

The alleged tracking of US citizens was to be carried out by ByteDance's internal audit and risk control team, Forbes said, which conducts investigations into misconduct by current and former ByteDance employees. However, the US business publication said the two unnamed Americans had never been employed by ByteDance.

Forbes, citing undisclosed material it had viewed, said it was unclear whether the location data was ultimately collected from users' devices. It said the material indicated that ByteDance did not intend the location information to be used for commercial purposes such as ad targeting.

TikTok responded to the allegations on a corporate Twitter account overnight, saying it does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning it "could not monitor US users in the way the article suggested". It added that TikTok had never been used to "target" any "members of the US government, activists, public figures or journalists".

As well as criticising the "integrity" of Forbes's journalism, TikTok's response also said any use of internal audit resources as alleged by the article would be "grounds for immediate dismissal of company personnel".

However, TikTok's own privacy policy states that the app may collect precise GPS location data from users, with their permission. It says: "We collect information about your approximate location, including location information based on your sim card and/or IP address. With your permission, we may also collect precise location data (such as GPS)."

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