Google does not allow Android apps to just collect these MAC addresses, as this violates the privacy of users. Apps are also made difficult to do this, but TiKTok found a bug in the software to make this possible.
The research shows that the app has collected the addresses for at least 15 months. The developer called it quits in November. According to a spokesperson, MAC addresses are no longer stored either.
Prohibition is approaching
The discovery comes at a very unfavorable time for TikTok. The app is on the verge of being banned in the United States as President Trump signed a decree. He fears that the Chinese software poses a threat to national security. According to the CIA, no evidence of espionage by the Chinese government using TikTok has yet been found.
The TikTok ban can be avoided if the company’s US operations are sold to a Western company. Microsoft is currently in talks with the Chinese app maker. Twitter might also be interested.