TikTok tracked Android users using a trick banned by Google

TikTok reportedly tracked Android users by collecting “unique identifiers” for over a year till November 2019. The TikTok Android app collected media access control (MAC) addresses of Android devices to show custom ads, as per a report by The Wall Street Journal. Collecting MAC addresses of Android users is not allowed by Google and violates Google’s privacy policies.
Google has restricted developers from tracking Android users through MAC addresses and IMEI numbers back in 2015 but TikTok managed to get past that through a loophole. The report claimed that at least 350 other Android apps did the same. As for TikTok, it continued to track users for 15 months and only ended the practice in November 2019.
In a statement to The Verge, TikTok said, ““We constantly update our app to keep up with evolving security challenges, and the current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses. We always encourage our users to download the most current version of TikTok.”
TikTok used to collect MAC addresses from users the very first time they installed TikTok and opened it. The MAC address is sent to ByteDance and tagged to an advertisement ID. With this ID, TikTok used to track the user’s behaviour without getting into the personal information. Now, the problem with MAC addresses is that it cannot be changed even if you format it. So, even if you delete and reinstall TikTok on a phone the app could continue tracking.
Meanwhile, the TikTok ban in the US app stores could make advertising on the platform illegal, according to a White House document seen by Reuters.Trump signed an order last week prohibiting transactions with TikTok if its parent ByteDance does not reach a deal to divest it in 45 days.

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