How seriously should you take the warnings no matter where you are?
The claims, according to some tech experts, are slightly exaggerated. According to Graham Webster, research scholar and editor in chief of the DigiChina Project at the Stanford University Cyber Policy Center in California, there is currently a lack of solid evidence supporting the concerns about data privacy and content manipulation mentioned by politicians.
“I think both of these theories are possible, but at this point, they both require a significant amount of imagination to actually constitute a US national security threat,” says Webster.
“But you would have to make an argument for why that access can be used in such a way that constitutes a national security threat,” he says.
This is due to TikTok's data not being particularly distinctive. Although the program can track location information, it must first ask users before doing so.
If the user declines, just an approximate location can be determined. In fact, a TikTok spokeswoman maintains that this is the reason why its workers' attempts to trace journalists were unsuccessful.
Additionally, the same information is captured by a variety of apps and is frequently sold to data brokers who then make it available to potential customers.
“There are lots of ways that foreign governments can access data in the United States,” says Anupam Chander, professor of law and technology at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC. “TikTok seems to be an unlikely target of data gathering by the Chinese government, because of the largely public nature of the activity on the app.”