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Dec 05, 2019 09:52 AM EST

China's TikTok Sued by US College Student over Data Use

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China's Tiktok Sued by US College Student over Data Use
China's Tiktok Sued by US College Student over Data Use
(Photo : pexels.com)

A college student from California has sued TikTok. The TikTok app is a viral video service operated by social media giant ByteDance Inc. The said company secretly funnels the complainant's personal information to China while using her videos to create an online profile for specific advertisements.

The case was filed last week in the Northern District of California by a full-time college student who uses TikTok named Misty Hong. She alleges that TikTok collected her videos, gathered her personal information, and then transferred that essential data to servers in ByteDance's home country. TikTok did the process without even asking her consent, her lawyers said in a filing that didn't provide enough evidence to back up the allegations. The college student is now seeking further legal advice regarding the issue.

ByteDance is one of the world's most valuable business startups. It has come under fire in the current months from American politicians and main users are teenagers. U.S. officials have expressed worry about the app's growing popularity. Officials are now analyzing whether ByteDance's $1 billion acquisition of startup Musical.ly two years ago, which produced TikTok, carries national security risks or threat factors. And just recently, TikTok started a controversy for suspending  and then restoring the account of New Jersey teenage user, Feroza Aziz, for posting a series of videos that reprimanded China's treatment of Uighur Muslims. The company later blamed the controversy on what they call "human moderation error." A ByteDance representative had no immediate response on the lawsuit.

TikTok's cheerful fun comes at a heavy cost," the lawyers said in the filing. TikTok unreasonably profits from its secret gathering of private and personal data of their prominent users and use such data to derive vast targeted-advertising revenues and profits.

TikTok music video app is now on discussion whether or not to undergo a national security review. TikTok, being an app known for everything from teenage twerking to singing gummy bears or other songs that needs parental guidance, has taken off among U.S. teens but becomes the main subject for criticism as conflicts arise between the U.S. and China over trade and technology. One of the few Chinese internet services to cater the users globally, it has been installed by around 564 million users this year. New U.S. users raised by 38% to 11.6 million in the third quarter, based on the stats provided by Sensor Tower, up from 8.4 million a year earlier.

It can now be recognized as a competitor to Facebook and Instagram. During the talk of Mark Zuckerberg at Georgetown University in Washington in October, said that while WhatsApp, the encoded messaging app his company also owns, is used around the world by the protesters and others who need free speech protections, TikTok doesn't offer any kind of this convenience. And that what makes him sound the alarm.

In the lawsuit, Hong accuses the app of privacy violation, data scam, and unfair services.

TikTok illicitly has gathered and transferred to servers in China huge quantities of private data that can be employed to identify and track the location and actual activities of users in the United States today and even in the future. 

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