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IU expert: TikTok’s data policy is ‘concerning’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An expert from Indiana University says there is good reason to consider TikTok a national security threat.

The warning from Sarah Bauerle-Danzman, an associate professor in international studies at IU’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global Studies, comes as Congressional lawmakers push to ban the app.

Bauerle-Danzman says the concern is that the owner of TikTok, Chinese tech company ByteDance, is collecting vast amounts of user data that could fall into the hands of the Chinese government.

TikTok collects sensitive data from users’ video habits, location, and other data stored on their phones, such as credit card details, usernames and passwords, and internet browsing histories, Bauerle-Danzman says.

ByteDance could be forced to hand this data over to leaders in Beijing, even if it doesn’t want to.

“There’s a law in China that compels companies to hand over any information that the government requests. This is why TikTok’s connection to the Chinese government is uniquely problematic to safety and security on the platform,” Bauerle-Danzman says.

Bauerle-Danzman says that to secure trustworthiness in the app, the public needs to be able to verify that TikTok is not stealing data and manipulating algorithms on the platform.

As a possible solution, the Biden administration is threatening a nationwide ban on TikTok unless its Chinese owners sell their stakes in the company. The app is already banned from government-issued mobile phones.