the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Washington DC, on Friday President Trump’s announcement that he plans to ban Chinese-owned TikTok has halted a potential acquisition of the popular app by Microsoft, with both companies waiting for more information for the U.S. government, according to several people involved in the talks.
The two companies were in advance stages of negotiating a deal that could have been announced as soon as Monday. Under the deal, TikTok’s owner Bytedance would sell the U.S. operation of TikTok to Microsoft, while continuing to operate the rest of the global video app out of a European headquarters. It’s unclear if the companies would share technology, such as through a licensing arrangement, or whether Microsoft would rebuild and operate the company. One option under consideration would have had Bytedance eventually separate its China business by listing it as a public company.
In early July there were reports that Amazon had asked employees to delete TikTok from their phones spread like wildfire—TikTok’s security woes have been the viral story of the month. Amazon quickly retracted the news—an internal memo had been released in error—but the implication that TikTok, an app installed by hundreds of millions, might be tapping into emails had resonated.
Amazon later walked back from any ban, Wells Fargo has asked some employees to delete the app, citing “concerns about TikTok’s privacy and security controls and practices.” You’ll remember that the U.S. military has already banned TikTok from government-issued phones—and there is pressure to widen that significantly, all of which pales compared to India’s blanket ban and threats that Australia and—devastatingly for TikTok—the U.S. might follow suit.
Forbes magazine reported on TikTok security concerns for more than a year. Whereas we have seen regulatory concerns and fines for data privacy violations and security vulnerabilities in the past, we have now seen TikTok caught up in the much wider U.S.-led backlash against Chinese tech.
So what is Tik Tok , TikTok is a free app like a short-form version of YouTube. Users can post videos up to one minute long and choose from a huge database of songs and filters.Comedy clips and movie quotes are also on offer for users to lip-sync to.
Once a user gets more than 1,000 followers, they can also broadcast live to their fans and accept digital gifts which can be exchanged for money.The app displays both videos by people a user follows and, more prominently, content that the app chooses based on what they have watched before. Private messaging is also available between users. Since early 2019 the app has regularly appeared near the top of download charts.
TikTok collects a huge amount of data on its users including:
what videos are watched and commented upon
phone model and operating system used
the keystroke rhythms people exhibit when they type.
Some of the app’s data collection has raised eyebrows, including the recent revelation that it was regularly reading the copy-and-paste clipboards of users.But this was also found to be the case for dozens of other apps including Reddit, LinkedIn, the New York Times and the BBC News app, and it does not appear that anything nefarious was going on. Much of TikTok’s general collection is comparable to other data-hungry social networks such as Facebook.