TikTok essentially admits they collected MAC addresses before

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TikTok collected MAC addresses of Android Users based on an investigation launched by the Wall Street Journal on the embattled social media app.

TikTok is in a tough position at the moment because of the pressure on them by the U.S. government. If they don’t act fast, they will be axed from the U.S. by September 15. Also, if they are too picky with their suitors, they may just as well bid goodbye to their biggest market.

Unfortunately, the situation has just become trickier for them. Several investigations have been launched on the practices of TikTok. Their focus has been on the data collection measures from users in the past. A bomb has just been dropped on the situation.

TikTok collected MAC addresses

MAC addresses don’t mean the addresses of Apple computers. Instead, MAC stands for Media Access Control. WhatismyIPaddress describes them as something given to a network adapter when it is manufactured.

“It [mac address] is hardwired or hard-coded onto your computer’s network interface card (NIC) and is unique to it.”

In layman’s terms, it is a tag that each device has, which makes tracking its online activities easier. For TikTok, that means smoother access to the phones for a more targeted advertising push. In addition, accessing MAC addresses means that TikTok can have a more invasive watch over its users.

The Wall Street Journal’s investigation found out that TikTok collected this information from its Android users for 18 months. Google’s Playstore and Apple’s App Store banned this measure as early as 2015. TikTok only discontinued the practice last November 2019, which means they’re hands are not clean.

Challenges ahead for the app

With this new story unfolding, TikTok’s future becomes even more unclear. A representative from TikTok said,

“We constantly update our app to keep up with evolving security challenges, and the current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses. We always encourage our users to download the most current version of TikTok.”

Based on this statement, they admitted that they collected MAC addresses before. It is because of these practices that made them a hot target of the U.S. government. They’re not the only in this mess, WeChat is also in the same position because of alleged security issues.

Be that as it may, ByteDance still has a month to lay out an exit plan from the U.S. As of the moment, Microsoft is their stand out suitor with Twitter coming at a far second.

Image from Kon Karampelas/ Unsplash

Steven Hung

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Steven Hung

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