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TikTok. Deputy Prime Minister Krzysztof Gawkowski about the popular application. Experts comment

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The TikTok application demands broad access permissions, just like other social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. However, using TikTok arouses greater emotions due to its connections with China, says Szymon Palczewski from CyberDefence24. This is echoed by Piotr Konieczny, head of the security team of the Niebezpiecznik website, who notes that ultimately it is the user who controls what information is shared with whom.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Affairs Krzysztof Gawkowski was asked on Friday on Radio Three about the list of dangerous equipment and applications that should not be used by Polish users, especially by officials. He said that the ministry is not working to block “any platform operators.” – But I recommend it to all users – no one should have applications that raise doubts on work devices. Should someone have TikTok on their work device? NO. No one should have TikTok on their work device, he said.

Referring to this statement, Szymon Palczewski, deputy editor-in-chief of the CyberDefence24 portal, said that the deputy minister's words should not cause sensation.

– They refer to company devices which, by definition, are used only to carry out work-related tasks. And TikTok and other applications are supposed to be for entertainment, he said.

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The guidelines are clear

He recalled that the guidelines and internal regulations, among others, The prime minister's office says directly that phones issued to state administration employees “are of an official nature and cannot be used for other purposes.” According to the expert, the use of TikTok arouses emotions due to its connections with China. – The application, like other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, requires broad access permissions. However, the political and even broader geopolitical context should be taken into account here. We are talking about competition between the West, led by the USA, and the Middle Kingdom, he said. According to Palczewski, one of the arguments against TikTok are Chinese regulations to which the platform's owner, ByteDance, is subject, and China's national security law passed in 2015, which creates a general obligation – to which citizens and organizations are subject – to cooperate with state authorities in the field of national security . – So far, no one has grabbed TikTok's hand. However, this does not change the fact that the matter raises doubts and is necessarily the subject of political discussions – said Palczewski.

Read also: The Chinese are not giving up their weapons. “They will sooner close TikTok than sell it”

“You guys control it!”

In turn, Piotr Konieczny, head of the security team of the Niebezpiecznik portal, assessed that “looking at the matter only from the technical side, in terms of cybersecurity, TikTok does not pose any greater threat than, for example, Instagram or LinkedIn.” – Personally, I don't like TikTok and I believe that the content presented there does more harm than good to young people, but looking at the matter only from the technical point of view, in terms of cybersecurity, TikTok does not pose any greater threat than, for example, Instagram or LinkedIn – he said. According to the expert, no one can use the TikTok application to download photos from an account, steal contacts or turn on the camera and microphone unless the user first allows access to the appropriate permissions. “You control it! And even if in the past you were fooled by a TikTok (or Instagram) dark pattern (an element designed to persuade users to perform various actions – ed.) forcing consent to a given permission, you can withdraw this consent at any time ” – Konieczny noted in a post posted on Facebook.

He added that TikTok does not read or steal data from other smartphone applications because the mechanisms of both iOS and Android do not allow it.

What TikTok can and cannot do

Konieczny pointed out that although this was possible in the past, currently the TikTok application cannot “silently” see what the user has copied to the clipboard. “However, TikTok can still 'silently' guess your location. And in several ways, even if you do not give it permission to do so! It can also 'illegally' use this knowledge to track people it 'does not like',” he admitted . He added that TikTok can also build a user's profile not only based on what he watches, but also on what he writes, also in private messages. “Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can do (and do) exactly the same. The difference is that some applications transfer your data to good Americans, and others to 'bad' Chinese,” he explained. According to Konieczny, both TikTok and Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) should be perceived primarily as threats to privacy and tools to influence users' decisions. “They achieve this with algorithms that 'suggest content'. The goal is primarily to force you to make some purchases. But the same 'weapon' can be used to make you sad, fool you or 'help' you decide who to vote for,” he wrote.

TikTok in the crosshairs

President Joe Biden signed a bill on Wednesday that gives Chinese company ByteDance one year to sell TikTok. Otherwise, the application will effectively be banned in the USA.

In turn, on Monday, the European Commission accused TikTok that the TikTok Lite loyalty program it launched in France and Spain may be risky for users, including the risk of addiction to the platform.

Main photo source: shutterstock

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