Credit: Freepik

Czech National Security Agency Issues Warning Over TikTok Data Collection

The developer and operator of the app is Beijing-based company ByteDance. Photo credit: Freepik.

Prague, March 8 (CTK) – The Czech National Cyber ​​and Information Security Agency (NUKIB) today issued a warning over the installation and use of the Chinese application TikTok. The agency described the app as a security threat and said the public should think twice before using it due to its data collection.

The developer and operator of the app is Beijing-based company ByteDance.

NUKIB warned against the use of TikTok on devices with access to critical information infrastructure and other vital information systems.

“The amount of data collected and its use, combined with the legal environment in China and the growing number of users in the Czech Republic, gives us no choice but to call TikTok a security threat,” said NUKIB director Lukas Kintr. “I proceeded to issue the warning on the basis of a comprehensive analysis of information about TikTok that we gained both from public sources and our allies.”

Under the cyber security law, the warning takes effect for the relevant persons and bodies from the moment it is posted on the NUKIB website. The relevant institutions must adopt appropriate measures.

NUKIB has evaluated the threat as high.

“NUKIB has recommended that the use and installation of TikTok be banned on the devices with access to a regulated system, as the easiest way to eliminate the cited threat,” the office said.

“The warning does not distinguish between users from the government and private sectors. What is vital to me is whether the threat to a concrete system might afflict the functioning of the Czech Republic and all of our security,” Kintr said.

Referring to the Chinese legislation in the sphere of security and intelligence activities, NUKIB raised the concern that the interests of the Chinese government might be placed above the interest of users.

It also noted that the Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS), in its annual report for 2021, denoted China as a growing, comprehensive intelligence threat.

The application gathers information on further installed applications. The content of private communication is downloaded to the ByteDance servers, which check information on the device including its location, contacts, WiFi network, and calendar.

“The amount of the data and the way it is collected can serve for targeted cyber attacks, increasing the risk of their success,” said NUKIB.

The Chinese social platform TikTok is based on recording and releasing short video footage. Some EU institutions recently banned the application on devices used for official purposes for fear that TikTok might be used for the promotion of Beijing or collection of information on its users.

Last week, the White House ordered the US federal authorities to eliminate TikTok from all government devices within 30 days.

On 1 March, the government of Canada also started blocking TikTok on its devices.

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