Since July of this year, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has been warning TikTok users about how their data is stored. Given that a Chinese company owns TikTok, there are serious concerns over whether US citizens’ data is being shared with the Chinese government.
Nexus CEO Earl Foote joined the hosts on this episode to give them a tech expert’s perspective:
“TikTok isn’t the first Chinese organization with which this has been a concern,” says Earl. “The FCC has dealt with this in the past.”
Earl noted that this is far from the first time US citizens have had to contend with a popular app or technology potentially putting their data in the control of Chinese organizations. There were similar concerns (and even regulatory action) concerning Huawei phones, Zoom, and other examples.
While in June 2020, TikTok US began routing data through stateside cloud servers, investigative reporting has found that private user data is still being exfiltrated abroad. This data could be used to support malicious cybercrime activity.
While TikTok is in the process of trying to divest itself from its Chinese parent company, the fact is that the process still needs to be completed.
You may be skeptical about the degree of risk you face as a TikTok user. After all, who cares if Chinese government organizations know how much you like silly cat videos?
It’s important to remember that your viewing habits are your private data. No matter how mundane they may be, it’s still your data.
“Consumer privacy is important,” says Earl. “Having all your behavioral data out there is not something you should want.”
Furthermore, the situation is much more complex when it comes to businesses that use TikTok. Companies may reveal a lot about themselves and their practices, which could later be used against them.
“On the business side, it’s more about understanding and stealing IP,” says Earl.
With any new app, you need to consider what data you’re providing about yourself and who has access to it.
Above all else, make sure you, your family, and your staff members understand cybercrime and why they need to be careful about what they share online. The more everyone knows about the types of threats, the less effective they are.