Leak reveals what kind of user information TikTok shares with police, including IP address history, phone model, Facebook ID and other related social media accounts
Newly leaked police documents reveal how the video sharing app TikTok shares information about its users with law enforcement under certain conditions.
The information covered a range of personal and technical details, including the specific model of phone the account holder owned, the number of different IP addresses they had connected through, and the phone number attached to the account.
The company also provided information about what other social media accounts the user had, as well as the Facebook account used to sign up for their TikTok account.
The Facebook account information also includes a ‘Binding ID,’ an alphanumeric code used to identify specific Facebook accounts that connect with outside services or apps, according to a report in Business Insider.
The documents were dated from 2020 and were obtained as part of Blue Leaks, a collection of more than a million documents taken from hacked police servers from around the US.
TikTok has been open about its cooperation with requests from law enforcement agencies in the past.
In a 2019 transparency report, TikTok said it had received 100 requests from law enforcement over a six month period, asking for information on 107 accounts.
The company says that it filled 82 of those requests, though the exact nature of the information and the specific circumstances of the requests remains unclear.
Under US law social media companies are obligated to share information with law enforcement when requested through a subpoena or court order.
TikTok has come under particular scrutiny in recent months both from government officials and celebrities uncomfortable with the company’s privacy policies.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration was considering banning the app.
‘I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at,’ Pompeo said.
High profile video game streamer Ninja, who rose to international fame playing Fortnite on Twitch, recently announced he has deleted the app over privacy concerns.
The US Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are also reportedly investigating TikTok over allegations it violated a 2019 agreement focused on children’s privacy.
TikTok has denied charges that there’s anything illegal or inappropriate about its data collection, and disputes charges made by some government officials that it is spying on behalf of the Chinese government.
‘We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users,’ a TikTok spokesperson said in a recent statement.
‘We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.’
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a Chinese social media app where users can live stream, create short videos and music videos and Gifs with a host of functions.
TikTok’s tagline is ‘Make every second count’.
It was the most downloaded app in the US in 2018 and the world’s fourth most downloaded app in 2018, ahead of Instagram and Snapchat.
In 2019, it became the second-most downloaded app globally behind Whatsapp.
TikTok is known in China as Douyin where it was launched in 2016 and then made more widely available around the world in 2017.
Douyin is still the version of the app used in China, available to download separately to TikTok.
Most children use the app to film themselves lip-syncing to chart hits.
It offers users a raft if colourful modification and editing tools including overlaying music, sound, animated stickers, filters and augmented reality (AR) for creating short videos.
The Beijing based social network has more than 500 million active users and the company is now worth more than $75 billion (£58 billion).