TikTok denies reports of using GPS information to monitor users

TikTok has denied reports alleging that its parent company ByteDance planned to use it to monitor the physical location of specific American citizens.

On Thursday, Forbes reported that a ByteDance team based in China planned to use the TikTok app to use location information to surveil individual American citizens not just to target ads.

Following the report, the video-sharing app tweeted a statement from its official Twitter account today denying the claims.

Calling Forbes’ reporting about TikTok as lacking ‘rigor and journalistic integrity’, it went on to say that TikTok was never used to ‘target’ any members of the US government, activists, public figures, or journalists.

In the report, Forbes said that it was unclear from the material it had viewed whether the location data was ultimately collected from users’ devices.

‘Forbes chose not to include the portion of our statement that disproved the feasibility of its core allegation: TikTok does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning TikTok could not monitor US users in the way the article suggested,’ said TikTok.

TikTok also clarified that any use of internal audit resources as alleged by the article would be ‘grounds for immediate dismissal of company personnel’.

However, this is in contradiction to the app’s privacy policy, which states that it collects ‘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)’.

In August, a security researcher claimed that TikTok’s in-app browser injected JavaScript code into external websites, allowing it to monitor everything you search for and type in, including sensitive information like passwords and bank details.

The Chinese video-sharing app is still on thin ice with US regulators. In June, an American communications regulator official called on Apple and Google to ban the app over ‘national security’ concerns.

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