back to article TikTok accused of covert plot to track specific US citizens' every move

TikTok has been accused of preparing to keep covert tabs on the physical whereabouts of certain US citizens using its app. The viral video giant, ultimately owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has long been a concern for privacy watchdogs in America and elsewhere over concerns it could be used to spy on the West. Now, it's …

  1. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Big Brother

    This is not a surprise

    I'm glad the article is documenting this, but it comes at no surprise.

    [if you have a kid, tell him he can use TikTok when he pays for his OWN PHONE AND CELL SERVICE - In My Bombastic Opinion]

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: This is not a surprise

      Kids of people who are on a Chinese watch list seem like very likely tracking targets, whether they have their own phones or not. If the kids are young, it is likely their parents are nearby wherever they are. For example, on a family holiday that just happens to be in a foreign city where there happen to be other subversives at the same time.

  2. Lordrobot

    ELVIS PRESLEY DRAFTED!

    That will put an end to the Devil infecting our CHILREN's MINDS!

    {Home Schooler ALERT}

    Ending TikTok will put an end to the Devil infecting our CHILREN's MINDS!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Self selecting idiots

    China says “thanks”

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Self selecting idiots

      As I mention in another reply, the problem is that family members may be using TikTok. If you are on a Chinese target list, and want to keep your location or movements untracked, it isn't enough just to not use the Chinese apps yourself.

  4. aerogems Silver badge
    WTF?

    Sign of the Apocalypse?

    One of the rare instances where I agreed with something the Trump admin did was when they started agitating towards blocking TikTok. I didn't agree with the racist motivations, but I did agree with the action. I figure that has to be a sign of the apocalypse or something. We already have Russia meddling in internal politics all around the world, we don't need to make it easier for China to join the fray.

  5. martinusher Silver badge

    Damn Commie mousetrap!

    ATictok is just a fun tool for wasting time. Its something that both youTube (Google) and Facebook (Meta) aspire to but unfortunately those damn Chinese have beaten us with their better mousetrap. So now we have to think up ulterior motives for their success -- spying, obviously, manipulation, probably, something that our 'merkan products would never dream of doing.

    Ultimately it comes down to politicians being cheaper to buy than talented developers.

  6. iron Silver badge

    If you're worried about TikTok's app spying on you there is a simple solution and it won't cost you anything.

    It may even improve your health and quality of life!

    What is this miracle idea?

    DON'T INSTALL TIKTOK.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well what the hell did you expect?

    Meanwhile, the Baiden administration is investigating Musk's twitter buy out on the grounds of national security.

    Clown world!

  8. mark l 2 Silver badge

    "According to TikTok, it has never surveilled members of the US government, activists, public figures, nor journalists, which is a very specific list"

    Well its not like like the Chinese gov have a law that says you have to do it, if they request it of you. Oh wait they do, and you aren't allowed to tell anyone if you have.

    Although if you are one of the above and are using Tiktok then you should really think about what you are doing with your life.

  9. Boo Radley

    TicTok on my Android Phone

    I just checked my Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, to uninstall it, and found that while I've disabled it, it can't be uninstalled. Apparently it came pre-installed on my phone. Same goes for Facebook and Uber, I don't have accounts with any of these services, and never will, but why am I forced to have them on my device at all. I hate to advocate for any more laws than we already have, but there really ought to be a law that stops phone companies from making apps uninstallable.

  10. Boo Radley

    TikTok Pre-installed

    My new Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra came with TikTok pre-installed, along with Facebook and Uber and a slew of Samsung apps, none of which I'll ever use. None of these apps can be un-installed, so they're just sitting on my phone, wasting space, and probably providing potential attack surfaces.

    I hate government over-reach, and we already have far too many laws, but I really think there should be a law against phones coming with apps that can't be removed by the user. I paid a lot for this device, why can't I have control over it?

    1. Sherrie Ludwig
      Big Brother

      Re: TikTok Pre-installed

      to all the people saying TikTok and other apps came pre-installed and can't be uninstalled,why did you buy that phone without checking first? When I bought my last phone, I sat with the guy at the phone store and made him uninstall about half the apps that came preloaded. I made him explain what each of the other apps did. YES it was a big time suck, and yes, he didn't love me for doing that, but if more people did it, the phone companies would maybe learn not to do this. I do not load apps onto my (very basic, low-storage) phone for every damn store or service that wants me to. Generally not worth the pennies this MIGHT save you.

      There is a grocery store that sometimes runs a loss leader for something I want "download the coupon from our app". The app gets installed at the store, the coupon gets loaded, and then the app gets uninstalled, but only if the savings is greater than the value of the time this takes.

      Yes, I am that customer, and yes, I WILL politely ask for service and expect it. Why capitulate to the overlords without resistance?

  11. clayusmcret

    Articles like this which repeatedly point out that TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, etc., etc., spy on them make me laugh and then laugh harder. I laugh at the repeated warnings that people refuse to take seriously, and then laugh harder over the stupidity of those same people who first refuse to listen to the warnings while later complaining about the constant spying. Ya just can't fix stupid.

  12. Alistair
    Windows

    I've already done on thing.

    I've taught the entire family that the *ONLY* time GPS functionality needs to be on is if you are using a guidance app for step by step assistance on a path. Yeah, the whole "wifi names map" thing comes up and of course the cell tower tracking, but when you tell an android app that it can use location data, it only gets the GPS data. And if you *must* for some bizarre reason keep GPS on, use coarse settings.

    Certainly I'm not someone that Beijing would want to track for any reason, but dear GOD the number of non map related apps that want your location data is staggering. TikTok is in all likelihood the LEAST of yer goddamn worries on that front if you have GPS turned on.

    Considering some of the crap that comes up on the *generic* (i.e. not yet signed up for an account) FYP on TikTok, I'd be guessing they have a far better ability to predict the next election results in any G20 country than most of the polling companies, *and* have a far better idea of the perversions enjoyed by that populace.

    a) yes it was installed

    b) I've since removed it

    c) rooted Moto G and non-vendor install.

  13. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    Obligatory Quote, with Appropriate Changes

    Captain Renault: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that data-raping is going on in here!"

    Clerk: (Here is that device's GPS data you requested, sir.)

    Captain Renault: ("Thank you.")

    Captain Renault: "Everybody out at once! This app has been banned!"

  14. OskaBatha

    And why are you so surprised? Do you think only tik tok tracks specific US citizens? Any platform can easily do this, from Instagram to Linked In. Believe me, if they want to hunt you down, they will hunt you down.

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