US researchers have warned about the way the Chinese app TikTok stores data. This could also affect the security of accessing your crypto apps, and indirectly accessing your cryptocurrency.
Is this an American anti-China rhetoric again or is there really something behind it?
The advice and warning comes from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wrote a letter to the CEOs of Apple and Google urging them to remove TikTok from their app stores.
According to Carr, TikTok would pose an unacceptable national threat.
In a survey Carr listed different types of data collected by the Chinese social app.
“TikTok collects everything from search and browsing history to keystroke patterns and biometric identifiers, including facial prints, which researchers said could be used in unrelated facial recognition technologies.”
He continued, “The app collects location data as well as draft messages and metadata, it also collected text, images, and videos stored on a device’s clipboard.”
In the meantime, everything that Carr says about Tik Tok is collecting, is being collected by Google and Apple as well.
Impact on bitcoin and crypto
Especially the latter can pose a threat to the security of your crypto.
It happens often enough that crypto users copy and paste a receiver address, private key or public keys on notepads, messages or apps – just to store them.
After all, it is not doable to type these over. In addition, passwords are copied in masse from password managers, as are 2FA numbers from Google Authenticator, for example.
Suppose you want to copy and paste the password, or even worse, the 12 words of your seed-phrase for a moment, it will temporarily appear on your device’s clipboard. According to the FCC, TikTok has access to this.
What can you do about this?
What can you do about this? If what the FCC says is really true, then it might be advisable to stop using TikTok.
But even better is to use a hardware wallet, where passwords and seed-phrases are stored offline. These are physical devices whose sole purpose is to keep your bitcoin and other crypto safe.
Donald Trump and Internet 2.0
By the way, the FCC is not alone. Donald Trump tried to thwart China in every way possible during his tenure (including with a trade war).
He wanted a total ban on TikTok. In 2020, the then US president signed an order stating that his government was considering banning the app, calling its data collection practices a threat.
In addition to Trump and the FCC, the American-Australian security firm Internet 2.0 recently warned About TikTok.
“When the app is in use, it has significantly more permissions than it really needs,” says Robert Potter, CEO of Internet 2.0. “It grants those permissions by default. When a user doesn’t give it permission… TikTok constantly asks.”
Does TikTok have connections to the Chinese government?
TikTok is Property of Chinese multinational internet company ByteDance, headquartered in Beijing.
ByteDance has always denied connections to the Chinese government and called the claim false information after suggested was that TikTok was censoring. This would be material that is not in line with China’s foreign policy objectives or the country’s human rights record.
“They consistently say that their app does not connect to China, is not accessible to Chinese authorities and would not cooperate with Chinese authorities,” said Potter of Internet 2.0.
But Potter says that from research from Internet 2.0 found that “Chinese authorities actually have access to device data.” By sending bots to the app, Internet 2.0 “consistently saw data being sent to China.”
Potter says it was not clear what data was being sent, only that the app was connecting to Chinese servers.
A TikTok spokesperson says to The Guardian, “The TikTok app is not unique in the amount of information it collects… We collect information that users choose to provide to us and information that helps the app function, operate safely and improve the user experience.”