The company insists that the access is necessary for its employees to do their jobs and that the approach is subject to robust security controls and approval protocols. TikTok also said it was centred on limiting the number of employees with access to European user data, minimizing data flows outside of the region, and storing European user data locally.
Despite TikTok’s claims, authorities worldwide have expressed concerns that user data could be passed on to the Chinese government. In the UK, the Parliament closed down its TikTok account last year, citing the risk of data being passed to Beijing.
TikTok is also under investigation by The Irish Data Protection Commission, which is looking into the app’s processing of children’s personal data and whether it has acted in line with EU laws over transferring personal data to other countries.
The platform has also been scrutinized by US authorities, who ordered TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, to sell its American operation over concerns that users’ data could be shared with Chinese authorities. While TikTok has denied that it collects precise location data from European users or that a China-based team planned to use the app to track the locations of US citizens, the app’s security remains a subject of concern.
TikTok is the world’s fastest-growing social media app and has been downloaded almost 4 billion times. It has made more than $6.2 billion in gross revenue from in-app spending since its launch in 2017, according to analytics company Sensor Tower. However, the latest revelations about TikTok’s security policies could lead to a decline in user trust and a subsequent loss of revenue.