The last few weeks have seen a dramatic turn of events in the case of TikTok – a social media app under the umbrella of a Chinese data corporation whose operation within the United States has targeted mostly teens and preteens.
The app exists in a realm somewhere between the now-defunct Vine and now-blasé Snapchat, allowing users to create and share short videos in a social setting. Of course, any time that users give an application access to their device’s camera or microphone there are bound to be security concerns, and TikTok’s Chinese connection has been of concern.
New allegations from a former head of MI6 has renewed these fears…and then some.
Nigel Inkster, the former director of operations and intelligence for the British Secret Intelligence Service, said that TikTok could serve as an entry point to access the data prominent figures in the United Kingdom if family members are on the same WiFi network.
“Where the Chinese intelligence services are very strong is in identifying non-obvious entry points to certain targets,” Mr Inkster told The Telegraph.
“They have shown a lot of skill in this regard: attacking a target from a variety of different directions, none of them obviously pointing to the target, but that will bring them closer to it,” Inkster said.
“This [TikTok being used as an entry point] is something I am sure people are having to think about,” he added.
And here’s where it gets tricky:
The former MI6 cheif said that short of a ban on the Chinese-owned short-form video app, it will be difficult to prevent family members of government ministers and politicians from downloading TikTok.
“I don’t underestimate the difficulty of doing that with families. Individuals employed by the Government, that is easy enough to do,” Inkster said.
“You can say ‘Thou Shalt Not’ as a condition of employment, but extending that to families may be problematic and not that realistic,” he explained.
US President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that would effectively ban TikTok and any American transactions with their parent company, unless the application is sold to Microsoft within a certain timeframe.
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