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Amid data privacy concerns, the latest research has revealed that the web browser used in Chinese app TikTok can track every keystroke made by its users.
The research was conducted by privacy researcher and former Google engineer Felix Krause, The New York Times reported.
Collecting information about what people type on their phones when visiting outside websites, which can reveal credit card numbers and passwords, is often a feature of malware, researchers say. other hacking tools.
Although big tech companies may use such trackers when testing new software, it’s not common for them to release a major commercial application with the feature enabled or not, researchers quoted as saying. by the NYT.
“Based on Krause’s findings, the way TikTok’s custom in-app browser monitors keystrokes is problematic because the user may enter their sensitive data such as login credentials on external websites,” said Jane Manchun Wong, an independent software engineer and security researcher who studies apps for new features.
However, TikTok in the statement said Krause’s report was “incorrect and misleading” and that the feature was used for “debugging, troubleshooting, and performance monitoring.”
“Contrary to the report’s claims, we do not collect typing or text input through this code,” TikTok said.
Krause, 28, said he was unable to determine whether keystrokes were actively tracked and whether that data was sent to TikTok.
Notably, according to LinkedIn profiles of public employees reviewed by Forbes, three hundred current employees of TikTok and its parent company ByteDance previously worked for Chinese state media publications.
Twenty-three of those profiles appear to have been created by current directors of ByteDance, who run departments overseeing content partnerships, public affairs, corporate social responsibility, and “media cooperation.”
Fifteen say current ByteDance employees are also concurrently employed by Chinese state media entities, including Xinhua News Agency, China Radio International and China Central/China Global Television. (These organizations were among those designated by the State Department as “officials of foreign governments” in 2020.)
Meanwhile, leaders of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have called for an investigation into whether Chinese officials had access to data on US users of the short-video platform TikTok.
In a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Lina Khan, Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Marco Rubio had urged her to examine how well TikTok protects private data.
TikTok, which is hugely popular for its short, viral meme-making videos, has been working to refute concerns it is a national security risk.