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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

TikTok is safe to use; stores user data securely: TikTok India Head

TikTok is owned by TikTok Pte Singapore, which is a part of Chinese private company ByteDance. The app drew attention regarding privacy and the storage of usage data.

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 13, 2020 8:24:26 am
TikTok had a rough past over privacy and security concerns but it managed to swim past that. (Image: Bloomberg)

The short video platform TikTok is one of the most popular non-game applications. Leaving aside the month of April, TikTok continuously rocked the charts with the most number of downloads worldwide for months, outperforming apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram, as per Sensor Tower’s report. With more than 119 million active users and more than 600 million downloads, India continues to be TikTok’s biggest driver as the application crossed 2 billion lifetime installs.

The application has had a rough time in the past. TikTok is owned by TikTok Pte Singapore, which is a part of Chinese private company ByteDance. The app drew attention regarding privacy and the storage of usage data. However, TikTok claimed that it doesn’t operate out of China (ByteDance runs Duoyin in China) and hence not bound to entertain any request from the Chinese government. The app also claimed that it stores data at its data centres in Singapore.

Also read | TikTok app ‘banned’ in India: All the events leading to its removal from app stores

The app was also temporarily banned in India when a petition was filed against it on the grounds of degrading culture, encouraging pornography, containing explicit disturbing content, causing social stigma and medical health issue between teens, harming children, exposing them to sexual predators, and violating the privacy of users.

TikTok privacy features

TikTok has since then worked on a number of privacy and security features to make the platform safer. It has included Digital Wellbeing, Device Management, Comments Filter and a Safety Centre, which enable TikTok users to take control of their accounts and decide who can engage with their content.

Also read | TikTok Family Pairing feature: Here’s how the app’s parental controls work

Recently, the app also launched the Family Safety Mode to allow parents to control Digital Wellbeing feature of their teenage kids’ account remotely. It allows guardians to set a limit on their kids’ use of the app as well as control direct messages and more.

TikTok and data privacy

TikTok has posted a blog post detailing its handling of user data, privacy, and security. It said that TikTok collects less user data than many peer companies in the mobile app space. It also reiterated that the app stores data at its data centres in the USA and Singapore. It added that as per its latest information security and data access policies, it has limited the number of employees who can access data.

Security practices

TikTok also said that it conducts periodic internal and external reviews or its security practices. “We are engaged with the world’s leading cybersecurity firms to accelerate our work in advancing and validating our adherence to globally recognized security control standards,” it said.

TikTok, TikTok reality show, TikTok new video, TikTok features, TikTok video, TikTok new video, TikTok online TV show, TikTok TV show, TikTok reality TV show TikTok published its first transparency report in January 2020. (Image: Bloomberg)

TikTok said that users on the platform are always in control as they have full ownership and control over their content. It added that their platform is open by default, and users can make their account private at any time.

Transparency

In January 2020, TikTok published its first Transparency Report for the first half of 2019 revealing details of legal information and content take-down requests it received from each country’s government. The report highlighted that India made the most overall legal requests as well as the most requests for content removal followed by the US.

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“The newly launched Transparency Center in the US allows trusted third-party experts to evaluate our moderation systems, processes and policies in a holistic manner,” TikTok said. “To continuously evolve our content moderation policies, we have created a committee of external experts to advise on and review content moderation policies covering a wide range of topics and other potential issues.”

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