Amazon first bans then permit TikTok on employee devices

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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On Friday, tech giant Amazon asked its employees to remove the TikTok social media app from every mobile device that has access to the company email, in the light of an analysis of the Chinese company’s data collection policies only to backtrack later saying that the email was “sent in error.”

In an email, the company cites “security risks” as a reason to remove the app by Friday, but notes, “At this time, you are allowed to use TikTok from your Amazon laptop browser.”

“While Amazon did not communicate to us before sending their email, and we still do not understand their concerns, we welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community”, responded a TikTok spokesperson.

However, later on, the same day, Amazon issued a statement that said, “This morning’s email to some of our employees was sent in error. There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok.”

Privacy issues have been under discussion regarding the popular video-sharing app. The U.S. Department of Defense advised all personnel to delete the app from their phones, and the Army prohibited its usage on service-issued smartphones last December.

When it was brought to light that the app has access to the clipboard contents of its iOS users, the company had agreed to discontinue it subsequently.

U.S Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo had made clear their intentions to ban the app as it expressed its suspicions on whether the user data would be shared with the government of Chinese.

Accusing them of stealing user data that could harm national security, India had also recently banned TikTok and other 58 Chinese smartphone apps.

In an attempt to ease fear caused by this global scrutiny, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance hired Kevin Mayer, former Disney Executive as the CEO of TikTok. It has been continuously claiming that it would not store international customer data on Chinese servers.

TikTok’s data collection methods are very similar to that of Facebook’s, say privacy experts. They are of the opinion that TikTok could be consuming fewer data compared to Google due to the limited services it offers. Meanwhile, Amazon itself is under scrutiny regarding its data privacy policy, especially regarding Alexa, it’s home assistant device.