Short form video sharing app, TikTok, has become further embroiled in scandal, following latest reports it collected device identifiers and violated Android policies for 18-months.
A new report by the Wall Street Journal, claims the TikTok Android app collected users’ MAC addresses for over a year – a unique identifier for devices – in a potentially lucrative coup for advertising.
Both Google’s Play Store and Apple’s iOS App Store banned MAC address collection in 2015, however, TikTok reportedly leveraged a loophole. The breach occurred until November last year, which the Journal claims followed political pressure.
TikTok has continued to be slammed by the Trump administration over cybersecurity risks and links to the Chinese government. The app is set to be barred in mid-September, with companies such as Microsoft pursuing acquisition talks before the ban.
TikTok’s Australian entity is set to be included in the sale to Microsoft, however, the status of negotiations remains unclear.
The White House issued an executive order last week to cease all United States based transactions with the Chinese-owned entity on September 20, with Trump advising a portion of TikTok’s sale should be diverted to the Treasury for ‘facilitating’ the deal.
Owned by Chinese ByteDance, TikTok confirmed to The Verge that the current version of the app does not collect MAC addresses.
Commentators speculate the ban of TikTok could also threaten WeChat, with renowned tech commentator Ming-Chi Kuo forecasting a 25% hit to global iPhone sales if the app is removed from the Apple App Store.