In a recent lawsuit, a California college student accused the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok of harvesting its users’ sensitive information to China.
The case was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, and the plaintiff accused the app of transferring a large quantity of private information to its home country.
However, ByteDance Technology Co (owner of TikTok) has declined such allegations and confirmed that it only stores the data in the US and operates separately outside of China, with Singapore being the only place it keeps the backups.
Chinese apps like TikTok, Kwai, and UC Browser have already been banned in some counties like India.
The US government has already begun a security probe over how the company manages and stores data, particularly on censorship of political content.
The Chinese conglomerate didn’t respond to the plaintiff, Misty Hong, but it stayed on its ground about users’ data and how the company was processing it.
As per Hong, she downloaded the app between March and April 2019 but never created her account. Per the statement, she criticised TikTok for creating the account without her consent.
The lawsuit also sheds light on how the app collected information about her using the biometric systems and videos she created on the app but never posted them online.
It also shared information about how the data is being transferred to two servers in China, ugly.qq.com and umeng.com.
The California-based student also stated that the app collects users’ device data and infiltrates one’s browser history without consent.
However, the lawsuit is still pending because the filing party has yet to provide concrete evidence that users’ data has been transferred to China or that Baidu or Igexin source code exists in the app.