German newspaper: TikTok sends data to Facebook and other advertising company
TikTok violates the AVG in various ways with its way of tracking users and sending data. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung claims that. Meanwhile, there is also a charge against TikTok in the US for tracking children.
TikTok has around 800 million users worldwide, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung based on an internal document. In a series of tweets, the author explains how TikTok exactly tracks users and where that data goes. Data about watched videos and search terms goes to Facebook and AppsFlyer. The latter is a company that does business with 4500 advertising companies. TikTok owner ByteDance does not mean to which companies the data goes. “We are not showing any contracts,” the company said.
Tracking is done via identifiers in URLs and via canvas and audio fingerprinting. In addition, the app draws a png in the background or lets the phone produce a sound without input from the microphone or output from the speakers. This combination of data is unique per telephone so that TikTok can track individual telephones. Because ByteDance and Facebook cannot show where the data is going and give no way to delete it, the companies are breaking the General Data Protection Regulation, according to the newspaper. The newspaper also says that TikTok uses various pieces of software without a license, including Zepto.js, FingerprintJS and Murmur Hash.
In the meantime, some parents in the US have sued TikTok for collecting data about their minor children without permission. In addition, the app, which until two years ago was called Musical.ly, did not say that it was collecting data and giving it to advertisers. TikTok says in a response to The Verge that a solution will soon be found for the objections of the parents.