Indian Ministry for Information Technology said through a press release on Monday, that it is banning TikTok, UC Browser, WeChat, Shareit, CamScanner, and 50+ other apps in India, on the grounds of posing threat to India’s sovereignty, security and indulging in espionage. The ministry mentioned that it has received several complaints about these apps stealing user data and transmitting to unknown locations outside of India.
This announcement comes around the time when those two Asian giants have locked horns over a border dispute in the Ladakh region. The third round of talks has been planned between the two military commanders. This ban is expected to further escalate tensions between two of Asia’s largest economies.
Tiktok was the 4th most downloaded free iPhone app, in 2019. Experts say that one in three smartphone users in India will be impacted by this ban.
Here is the official press release by Indian Government, which has the list of other apps banned by them: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetailm.aspx?PRID=1635206
Meanwhile, a Reddit user has claimed that he has reverse-engineered Tiktok and has posted his findings <here>. He claimed that the app contained some huge security concerns, including its ability to act as a data collection service masked as a social network. “They set up a local proxy server on your device for transcoding media”, said the user. Most of the logging done by the app is remotely configurable.
Some of the other claims:
- They weren’t https for a long time
- Users email, names and birthdays were publicly visible a few months ago
- They encrypt all their analytics requests such that you cannot see what they are doing
- The app tries to obfuscate its functionalities when being reverse-engineered
- There are also few snippets of code in the Android version of this app, that allows for downloading and executing binary files
This user states that he has reverse-engineered a number of apps in the past, including Facebook, Reddit & Twitter, and nowhere has he seen an app collecting information on the scale of TikTok.