- TikTok’s insatiable hunger for data
- Beijing reluctant to become involved in Afghanistan
- Sinolytics.Radar: tax revenues plummet
- Forest fires caused by heatwaves
- Taiwan: fewer orders from Mainland
- Allianz wants to enter asset sector
- Subsidies for hydrogen refueling stations
- Apple enters India
- Debt cut for African countries
- Profile: Yang Huiyan – billionaire in the real estate crisis
- Authorities change Minions movie
Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple – in the past decades, major US tech companies have collected a gigantic treasure trove of user data. Every Google search, every conversation with Siri, every Amazon order and every post on Facebook is stored and can potentially be accessed forever. In everyday life, we have almost come to terms with this. But what happens when a Chinese company also forces its way onto our smartphones? Many young people can hardly imagine everyday life without TikTok. The company, which has a Chinese parent company, taps into users’ data on a massive scale, as Marcel Grzanna reports.
After all, user information could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, as technical analyses show. Cynics might argue that the US NSA already has all the data, so why should we be more careful about China? But that would be a false lesson from Edward Snowden’s revelations. In the digital age, data protection should not be an inconvenient responsibility of users, it should be the task of the government.
Several major powers have already burned their fingers on Afghanistan. A year ago, the Western military and many civilian organizations withdrew from the country. After that, many observers thought that China would step into the vacuum and protect its interests in the Hindu Kush, exploit raw materials and extend the Silk Road into the region.
But the situation turned out differently, as Christiane Kuehl reports. The country sank into chaos after the Western withdrawal: Sanctions against the Taliban made trade with Afghanistan difficult. In addition, a hunger crisis followed a drought. Leaders in Beijing are currently still acting very cautiously in their exchanges with the Taliban. They do not want to be drawn into the chaos.
TikTok fears for its reputation
Hourly location tracking, unrestricted access to personal calendars, and persistent requests to view a user’s contact list: The video app TikTok digs so deeply into users’ privacy that not even Facebook & Co dare to do. This is why TikTok has set a clear priority in its public relations work: To create distance from its Chinese parent company ByteDance. Two internal guidelines from TikTok’s PR department indicate that the company’s close relationship with ByteDance is a source of concern for the PR staff.
The list of bullet points found in a 53-page document titled “TikTok Master Messaging” gives the company’s press departments a clear line on what their central message must be when talking to journalists: They are to emphasize that TikTok is an independent brand while explicitly downplaying its ties to ByteDance and the People’s Republic of China. This was reported by the tech blog Gizmodo, which received these leaked guides from TikTok employees.
Extensive data access powers for the government
The documents dated last year are by no means enough to brand TikTok as a direct tool of Chinese political interests. But at the very least, they prove how problematic the Chinese origin is for a tech company that has gained the trust of users outside the People’s Republic. Especially since the legal situation in China does not help to increase the credibility of the company.