Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Is TikTok less secure than other social networks?

The White House, the Government of Canada, the European Commission and the European Parliament are some of the organizations that have banned the use of TikTok on their employees’ devices, with security as the main argument. But, aren’t these social networks more stalking than other users?

No, security and privacy are similar in all of them, but the problem now is “we are in a different geopolitical context” and in general social networks that come from the East, especially from China or Russia, “in the spotlight for a long time”. The decision to withdraw the official mobile application is “foreseeable and understandable”, say consulting experts.

The problem is therefore not the use of TikTok itself – of Chinese origin, but rather the installation of it on the devices that are used by the employees, which would potentially allow through geolocation or camera and microphone, and the theft of a more secret search. information TikTok denies it and talks about “prejudice”.

“To benefit the enemy”;

Juan Gualberto Gutiérrez, from the University of Jaén, illustrates this with an example: let’s think of a US soldier at the Rota naval base who opens a TikTok account. Friends indeed see him in Gadius, but also “enemies” and “this is to their advantage.”

“Let’s get a little more radical. What if we go to war? If my government – in this case the Chinese – forces my company to use its intelligence to locate people or even spy on them through microphones and through machine cameras? Am I ready?

“These are difficult times”, affirms this professor of Computer Science, who sees the view as “totally logical”, describing the action as a precaution: “there is more that can be done with an application that is uncertain or not”.

For Jordi Serra, professor of Computer Science, Multimedia and Telecommunications Studies of the Universität Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), applications from China or Russia “have been in the spotlight for a long time. They do not trust because States can pass laws to force their companies to include a large system.

“We are in the age of information, it is so valuable to get it, than to make it so that no one can have it.”

Both agree that the main fear of governments is to spy on terminals, listen to conversations or geolocate critical people – it can be done even without GPS, locating the Wi-Fi to which the user is connected or the assigned IP address.

“We are in the information age, so that we can get something as valuable as we can be sure that no one can have it,” summed up Serra.

From the cyber security company Avast, Luis Corrons states that “we are talking about government officials and institutions that can gain access to confidential information. There have already been many cases of espionage of Chinese origin, recently NATO has announced how to increase this activity. in Europe through China”.

“Since TikTok is a Chinese company (which means that, unlike in the West, the government has a direct hand) it is understandable that the top security heads of the government, who are paranoid when it comes to security, do not want to risk anything and ask the app to be removed.”

As for whether Spain follows the same path, he answers: “to prohibit or prohibit an application, because it is from a certain country because of distrust of the security of that country, does not cease to have political importance. Apart from what is required. satisfaction or not to do, we are not the ones to say what the government would do “.

“What we know is what Europe and other countries feel about security, in the case of Spain it is likely that what most of the partners think has been followed, but it is still an exclusive policy of the government.”

Data protection, another concern

To this expert, TikTok -owned byteDance- “is on par with popular American applications in terms of privacy. Therefore, the information it collects about users is as offensive as that collected by Meta.”

Juan Gualberto Gutiérrez maintains that “when you agree to the agreement and sign for TikTok, you give all your information to the company; abusive, like the policy of Meta”, although European data protection laws are much more guaranteed than in the US

Croma and UOC professional lawyer, Sergio de Juan-Creix, also highlights this caveat and adds “greater awareness” in Europe after the approval of the General Data Protection Regulation, although it has not yet reached maturity.

Tiktok defends itself

From TikTok, they emphasize that their privacy policy is transparent, public and “transparent”, and they deny the transfer of data to third parties, specifically to China.

“Whatever the laws say and we comply with all privacy regulations,” says James Lev Mannheimer, TikTok’s director of institutional relations for Southern Europe, who points out that users’ data only provide suitable experiences.

Lev Mannheimer sees in the decision to withdraw the application from the official phones “prejudices” based on an “unrealistic” idea of ​​what TikTok is: it is a global company (…) and American investors also have a share in its ownership. shows

Data from American and European users is stored in the United States and not in China, a TikTok spokesperson says, adding that Europe will have three data centers, the first of which will be in Ireland before the end of the year.

“We understand the geopolitical tension in the world right now, but we are a company and we want to be in the middle of that tension, which we really believe is not our business.” “We didn’t give information to the Chinese government and the Chinese government never asked us for information. If it does, we won’t deny anything.”

As for the decision of the European institutions that banned the application, he was surprised by the method, because TiKTok said – I did not contact him. “A method that seems un-European to us. It is a unilateral decision that seems to be based on prejudice.”

Lev Mannheimer indicates that he has contacted European institutions to clarify their data protection and computer security policies (waiting for a response). Although he did not comment on other platforms, he pointed out that “independent studies have previously shown that there is no substantial difference” between TikTok and other applications.

“We are always open to dialogue and we want to be future. We also hope to find out from the other side.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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