Reuters reported that the United States Navy banned TikTok from government-issued mobile devices because the app represented a “cybersecurity threat”.
A bulletin issued by the Navy on Tuesday showed up on a Facebook page serving military members, saying users of government=issued mobile devices who had TikTok and did not remove the app would be blocked from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet.
Reuters reported that the Navy would not provide details on what dangers TikTok presents. Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Uriah Orland said in a statement that the order was part of an effort to “address existing and emerging threats.”
This comes after two senior members of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked U.S. intelligence officials to determine whether TikTok posed “national security risks”. The two Senators sent a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maquire, questioning TikTok’s data collection practices and whether the app could be used by the Chinese-owned social-networking app to limit what U.S. users could see.
Reuters reported that last month U.S. Army cadets were instructed not to use TikTok, after Senators Schumer and Cotton raised security concerns about the Army using TikTok in their recruiting.
I find this interesting because, at a glance, TikTok appears to be an app designed to encourage creativity. People make short videos that are intended to be humorous. Many people find the videos to be amusing, and they pass them around on social media.
Now, it seems that TikTok could actually be a security threat, and a strong enough one where various branches of the U.S. military are banning it from government-issued mobile devices. There appears to be concern about TikTok’s data collection practices. It is troubling that an app that appears to be lighthearted could potentially be dangerous.
You may have seen some brief, funny, videos from TikTok posted on social media. It functions similarly to how Vine used to. While most of us don’t give much consideration to what TikTok may be doing other than providing a moment of amusement, two U.S. Senators are questioning if TikTok may be dangerous.
The Washington Post reported that two senior members of Congress, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Shumer (D-N.Y.) and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) have asked U.S. intelligence officials to determine whether the Chinese-owned social-networking app TikTok poses “national security risks”.
The two senators sent a letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire about TikTok. They questioned TikTok’s data-collection practices and whether the app could be used by the Chinese-owned social-networking app to limit what U.S. users could see. The Senators ask the Intelligence Community to conduct an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-based content platforms operating in the U.S. and brief congress on these findings.
In response, TikTok posted a statement in which they attempt to “set the record straight on some specific issues.” Here are some key points from TikTok’s statement:
We store all TikTok US user data in the United States, with backup redundancy in Singapore. Our data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of our data is subject to Chinese law. Further, we have a dedicated technical team focused on adhering to robust cybersecurity policies, and data privacy and security practices.
TikTok states that it does not remove content based on sensitivities related to China. TikTok says it has never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and that they would not do so if asked. Their U.S. moderation team, which is led out of California, review content adherence to U.S. policies. TikTok states: We are not influenced by any foreign government, including the Chinese government.
It is up to individual people whether or not they trust TikTok’s statement. The fact that two U.S. Senators, (one Democratic and one Republican) think something may be up makes me feel very unsure about TikTok.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that the operators of the video social networking app Musical.ly (now known as TikTok) have agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle FTC allegations that the company illegally collected personal information form children. This is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the FTC in a children’s privacy case.
The FTC’s complaint (which filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC), alleged that Musical.ly violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites and online services directed to children obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.
User accounts were public by default, which means a child’s profile bio, username, picture and videos could be seen by other users. Changing the setting to private did not make the profile private. Users could still send direct messages to private Musical.ly accounts.The complaint noted that there had been public reports of adults trying to contact users via the Musical.ly app.
The FTC complaint said that operators of the Musical.ly app were aware that a significant percentage of users were younger than 13 and received thousands of complaints from parents that their children under 13 had created Musical.ly accounts.
TikTok posted information on its newsroom about how they will work with the FTC in conjunction with the agreement. TikTok will split users into age-appropriate TikTok environments, in line with FTC guidance for mixed audience apps. The environment for younger users will not permit the sharing of personal information. It also places limits on content and user interactions.
There are two things can be learned from this situation. One is that companies that have apps or websites that collect user’s personal information really need to take steps to ensure that the data from children is kept private. Failing to do so could result in a huge fine.
The other lesson is that parents should not assume that an app will protect their child’s data – or keep their child’s profile private. Take the time to see what the app collects, and how protective their privacy settings are before allowing your child to use it.
TikTok was a product that was turned down by Apple, so they went to Kickstarter to raise funds. After 30 days, the end result was not only a great amount of enthusiasm, but also the funds to create the TikTok watch.
The TikTok watch is a case for your iPod Nano. Once you put the Nano into your watch enclosure, you can use this just like a watch. The casing – made of Aerospace grade Aluminum – Comes in several styles and colors. So you could easily change watch enclosures to go with your wardrobe.
Best part – It’s more than just a watch. Not only can you listen to music, but you can use the watch as a Pedometer, a fitness application, an FM radio and more.
Scott Wilson (@ScottWilsonID), founder of MINIMAL (based in Chicago, IL) was the creator of this enclosure. Their company works by enhancing products from companies like Xbox, Nike, Dell, Microsoft, Apple and Coalesse.
These enclosures start at $79. Check out LunaTik.com for more information. Of course, get a Nano at the Apple Store.