Social media is all around us and is an integral part of the society that we live in. We see people from all walks of life spending time on social media, and one platform has become increasingly popular this year: TikTok.
In September 2021, the platform had over 1 billion monthly active users, and it is still growing.
However, there are concerns about the platform that have been coming to light in recent weeks.
Why TikTok is a Threat to Cybersecurity
As a company offering cybersecurity in Miami, our main concern is the data collection of TikTok. The platform was able to infiltrate the mainstream thanks to the sensitive data that it collects about its users.
Due to the platform being Chinese-developed, it falls under Chinese National Intelligence Law.
What does this mean?
The law requires any citizen or organization to:
Who? All intelligence work that China conducts. In this case, data that users share and do not want to share can be collected and shared with the government.
Multiple forms of data are being collected:
- Keystroke patterns
- Browsing history
All of this information is very scary in the wrong hands. For example, the app may be tracking your keystrokes when putting in your password, sharing it with other agencies, and then using it to access all of your accounts.
If the devices of government agents were accessible, the keystroke patterns might even include pin codes and other information, allowing China’s intelligence agency to access these devices.
There have also been reports of children’s privacy protection violations, censorship and the spread of propaganda on TikTok.
What the Government is Saying About TikTok
Government officials are working to ban TikTok for government employees, and there have been a lot of reasons presented. CIA Director Willian Burns sums it up perfectly in one of his responses on the matter:
- TikTok insists on extracting private data from users
- Private data is being used to shape what people see on the platform
In short, officials claim that the platform is being used to advance the interests of Chinese leadership. Due to the massive amount of data that can be collected through the TikTok app, it's likely that calls for a ban on TikTok will continue.
However, the new laws and restrictions in place are likely to impact the tech industry in the future if other social media platforms decide to overstep their data collection.
What the Government is Doing About TikTok
The Federal Government has been making waves in recent weeks with calls to ban the platform. In fact, the Senate has agreed to block the the social network from all government devices.
Some US states are also banning TikTok on any government-managed devices.
West Virginia and Louisiana are two states that have banned the use of TikTok on any government-managed devices. However, the device is still used by over two-thirds of teens in the United States.
A full ban on the app will prove difficult, but it is something that some government officials have been asking for in recent weeks.