Track apps

TikTok browser can track user keystrokes, new research shows

Written by Paul Mozur, Ryan Mac and Chang Che

The web browser used in the TikTok app can track every keystroke made by its users, according to new research that is surfacing as the Chinese video app grapples with concerns from US lawmakers over its data practices.

Research by privacy researcher and former Google engineer Felix Krause did not show how TikTok used the feature, which is built into the in-app browser that appears when someone clicks on an external link. . But Krause said the development was concerning because it showed TikTok had built in a feature to track users’ online habits if it chose to do so.

Collecting information about what people type on their phones when visiting external websites, which can reveal credit card numbers and passwords, is often a feature of malware and other tools. of hacking. Although large 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, the researchers said.

In a statement, TikTok, which is owned by Chinese internet company ByteDance, 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 said he was unable to determine if keystrokes were actively tracked and if that data was sent to TikTok.

The research could raise questions for TikTok in the US, where government officials have been examining whether the popular app could endanger US national security by sharing information about Americans with China. Although the debate in Washington over the app has receded under the Biden administration, new concerns have arisen in recent months after revelations from BuzzFeed News and other outlets about TikTok’s data practices and its ties to its company. Chinese mother.

Krause said he did the TikTok research only on Apple’s iOS operating system and noted that keystroke tracking would only occur in the in-app browser.

In an interview with CNN in July, Michael Beckerman, a policy official at TikTok, denied that the company logs users’ keystrokes, but admitted monitoring their habits, such as keystroke frequency, to protect against spam. fraud.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

First published on: 2022-08-20 at 12:35:58

Veteran film producer KC Sharma has died