‘Beware in-app browsers’ is a good rule of thumb for any privacy conscious mobile app user given the potential for an app to leverage its hold on user attention to snoop on what you’re looking at via browser software it also controls.
TikTok’s spokesperson also told us it does not offer users an option not to use its in-app browser because it would require directing them outside the app which they argued would make for a clunky, less slick experience They also reiterated a previous public TikTok denial that it engages in keystroke logging (i.e. the capturing of content) but suggested it may use keystroke information to detect unusual patterns or rhythms, such as if each letter typed is exactly 1 key per second, to help protect against fake logins, spam-like comments, or other behavior that may threaten the integrity of its platform. TikTok’s spokesperson went on to suggest the level of data gathering it engages in is akin to other apps which also collect information about what users search for within the app to be able to recommend relevant content and personalize the service. They confirmed that users who browse web content within its app are tracked for similar personalization such as to select relevant videos to show in their For You feed. TikTok may also collect data on user activity elsewhere, on advertiser’s apps and websites, when those third party companies elect to share such data with it, they further noted. Meta-owned apps Instagram, Facebook and FB Messenger, were also found by Krause to be modifying third party sites loaded via their in-app browsers — with “potentially dangerous” commands, as he puts it — and we’ve also approached the tech giant for a response to the findings. Privacy and data protection are regulated in the European Union, by laws including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the ePrivacy Directive, so any tracking being undertaken of users in the region that lacks a proper legal base could lead to regulatory sanction. Both social media giants have already been subject to a variety of EU procedures, investigations and enforcements around privacy, data and consumer protection concerns in recent years with a number of probes ongoing and some major decisions looming.
Source: This news is originally published by techcrunch