The folly of banning the Tic Toc app

The folly of banning Tic Toc app

Why the Tic Toc app won’t work:

The United States Congress is currently debating and investigating Tic Toc. There is little doubt that Tic Toc and their practices at shady and do not benefit the US citizens.  ByteDance, the company that owns Tic Toc operates at the pleasure of the Chinese Government and by law is obligated to share any and all information that it collects. Tic Toc collects a large amount of data from the people that use it. This is done with all social media and other apps that are on your phone and on the internet. The data is bought by data brokers, who compile information about citizens and sell it for pennies on the dollar to anyone who can pay. Your data has no boarders, it can and does go anywhere on the planet.

What are they planning?

First, government employees will probably just use their personal phones that they have on them to circumvent the “problem” as they see it, still exposing data about themselves: Their name, phone number, GPS location, contacts, and other critical information about them and their habits. Banning the app from Government workers’ phones seems to be a placebo cure done as political theater and not a cure at all.

Second, Tic Toc has an SDK (a software development kit) which is used by developers to write code for other apps that are in Apple’s and Google’s play stores currently. There are hundreds of thousands of developers that use this to produce code for their own applications. This code reports back to ByteDance, Tic Toc’s parent company. Currently, the producers of this software using the Tic Toc SDK are not under scrutiny or being banned.  If you truly want to protect Americans from being spied on, this is something to delve deeper into.  (For a complete look at the SDK: )

Third, Tic Toc has trackers on many sites on the internet that report activity back to ByteDance.  The Tic Toc Pixel is a bit of JavaScript code that reports on users movements on the site where the code resides.  It can track actions such as: clicking a button, filling out a form, downloads, and many other actions. (For the full code, you can visit: )

Fourth, Blocking Tic Toc altogether:  We can set up a national firewall to block malicious apps and programs and make the internet safer for Americans. Internet and cell providers could also block things at that level. We have the technical knowledge to do this, but we are a free society and doing that, while condemning other nations for doing the same, would be shameful.

What can we do?

The bottom line is:  Companies are collecting our personal information. Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and most apps on our phones are collecting information on us every second and sending it to parties unknown. Data brokers are selling information on Americans to anyone who has a few dollars to spend.

If you want to safeguard American’s from being spied on, we need to start by not allowing personal information to be sold. There is a whole industry that is dedicated to extract “data points” about everyone in America. Health Apps are not regulated by HIPAA and are not private, some selling information to data brokers for a few cents per personal record.

I am glad that the President and Congress seem to be taking a step in the right direction, but this is just a small step to keep our personal freedoms. If this is the only step that is made, then it is just political theater and does not solve the systemic problems that are the real issue.

Action steps:

Many people will say that they have nothing to hide. That is fine, but I don’t see them hiring a billboard company with their banking and health records on it for all to see. Some things deserve to be private.

Call or write your representatives (most are not technical people) and tell them that data privacy is more than just banning one foreign app on your phone.  You deserve better. You deserve the right to either keep your data private or gain financially from sharing it with the companies who collect it.

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