TikTok is going through a difficult time amid its possible ban in the United States, and a new investigation is only making the situation worse. According to a report published by The Wall Street Journal, TikTok had access to private information of Android users, something that violated Google’s privacy policies and could cost the app dearly.
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According to the research, TikTok was able to access the MAC address of Android users, which is a unique identifier of each device connected to the internet that can be used to target personalized advertising, as well as to track the device in more invasive ways.
TikTok accessed this information in the past 18 months and it would have discontinued the practice in November of last year after surveillance by the United States government on the app intensified.
In 2015 the Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store banned apps from accessing the MAC address of the devices they were installed on, but TikTok was able to circumvent this measure by using a loophole in its Android version. Although of course, the app of Chinese origin is not the only one that has taken advantage of this error.
According to research cited by The Wall Street Journal, about 350 applications in the Google Play Store had access to the MAC address of smartphones. This information is used primarily to target location-based ads.
This investigation comes at the most inopportune moment for TikTok, since the government of Donald Trump has already given him an ultimatum to leave the territory of the United States, or to sell his shares.
This is not the first time that TikTok has raised this type of security suspicion. Users who were testing the security improvements that will be installed in iOS 14 discovered that the app usually copies the content of the clipboard, as well as everything that is written while the app is in use.