TikTok used a loophole to track MAC addresses on Android

TikTok used a loophole to track MAC addresses on Android”

TikTok tracked Android phones' MAC (media access control) addresses - unique hardware identifiers assigned to a network interface - possibly for advertising purposes, per the Journal story.

TikTok's problems with user data don't stop there, either. TikTok then bundled it with other data like an advertising ID, potentially violating Google policies prohibiting apps from connecting ad IDs to any persistent identifier (known as ID bridging) without the "explicit consent of the user".

A TikTok spokesperson said that the current version of its app doesn't collect MAC addresses.

TikTok, which recently claimed it collects less personal data than Facebook or Google, allegedly stockpiled MAC addresses for at least 15 months, ending in November 2019, when parent company ByteDance Ltd. came under scrutiny by the United States government.

The White House has grown increasingly wary of TikTok, with the administration claiming that TikTok is selling American user data to the Chinese government. TikTok announced the hiring of Cloutier, formerly chief security officer at ADP, in March 2020.

The Journal says that TikTok utilized MAC addresses for 15 months, ending with an update in November 2019.

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Google said it's investigating the Journal's analysis, and did not comment on the loophole that allowed the MAC addresses to be collected.

Presented with the WSJ's findings, Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) told the newspaper that Google should remove TikTok's app from its store.

The new revelations come as TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, are under heavy scrutiny in the USA over national security concerns, with the White House eyeing the highly plausible prospect of the app being sold to an American tech giant, namely Microsoft Corp, thereby solidifying its position on the social media market.

The White House cut off all U.S. transactions with ByteDance, via an executive order issued last week, beginning September 20 if the company is unable to complete the sales of its USA operations by that time. The president invoked national security concerns for the ban, noting that Chinese authorities could demand ByteDance fork over any TikTok user data.

The key task on Microsoft's part would now reportedly be separating TikTok's technology from ByteDance's infrastructure, so as to ease Washington's concerns about the integrity of personal data.

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