People are being warned to delete TikTok or risk having your data exposed
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People in the UK have been urged to delete TikTok from their phones because of potential security risks by the chair of Britain’s foreign affairs committee.
Conservative MP and foreign affairs committee head Alicia Kearns said that the popular video sharing platform represents a serious data risk and added that ‘we are being naive’ about the threat posed by it.
She claims that the social media platform leaves users’ data at risk to ‘hostile’ threats, making specific reference to the Chinese government.
The company that owns TikTok - ByteDance - is based in Beijing and has strenuously denied that any data would ever be handed over to the Chinese government.
On Sunday, Kearns told Sophy Ridge on Sky News: “It is not worth having that vulnerability on your phone.
“It is the ultimate data source for anyone with hostile efforts.”
When pressed on whether she thinks people should delete the app from their smartphone and devices, she added: “Without question.”
TikTok has more than a billion worldwide users and is obviously hugely popular, but there are increased concerns about the data that it collects from the devices of those that use the platform.
It was recently revealed that ByteDance employees had used data gleaned from TikTok to track down several journalists in the West, attempting to discover their sources.
Kearns continued: "Everyone should be concerned about that.”
A spokesperson for TikTok said: "TikTok is enjoyed by millions of people across the UK, and we want to be clear that they can trust us with their data.
"We're taking steps like storing UK user data in our data centre operations in Ireland, starting this year; further reducing employee access to data; and minimising data flows outside of Europe.
"We have written to Ms Kearns on a number of occasions to ensure she has all the facts and information available and we look forward to having constructive engagement with her on these important issues in the near future."
TikTok has already been the subject of legal action in the US because of alleged privacy breaches, and there have been discussions about banning the app outright.
Kearns said that we should ‘get far more serious about protecting ourselves’ with regards to TikTok.
The TikTok algorithm is famous for bringing a seemingly endless stream of user-generated videos tailored specifically to what each user enjoys or watches, and has been part of the huge success of the app.
In terms of what it knows, TikTok knows the IP address of the user, as well as other apps on their devices and any log-in and sign-up information that has been inputted.
The app also regularly asks for permission to access phone contacts and locational data from users, though permission is required.
TikTok is already banned on the devices of politicians in Congress, and blocked in many schools and workplaces.
Next month, the US foreign affairs committee will vote on whether a cross-party plan to ban the app outright should be undertaken.
It isn’t known whether President Joe Biden would support such a ban, but it was certainly on the to-do list of his predecessor Donald Trump. Biden has ordered a governmental review into foreign-owned apps such as TikTok.
LADbible has contacted TikTok for an updated comment.