TikTok sued in US over alleged China data transfer

The video platform is hugely popular with teenagers around the world. (File/AFP)
Updated 04 December 2019

TikTok sued in US over alleged China data transfer

  • Hong alleges that the app retrieved her data without permission
  • In early November, the US government opened a national security investigation into TikTok

SAN FRANCISCO: A university student in California has filed a class-action lawsuit against video app TikTok, which she accuses of harvesting large amounts of user data and storing it in China.
“TikTok clandestinely has vacuumed up and transferred to servers in China vast quantities of private and personally-identifiable user data,” the court filing said.
Misty Hong, a student in Palo Alto, California, filed the suit against the Chinese-based app in California federal court last week, according to a report in The Daily Beast on Monday.
The video platform, which is hugely popular with teenagers around the world, was launched by Chinese company ByteDance in September 2017.
“TikTok also has surreptitiously taken user content, such as draft videos never intended for publication, without user knowledge or consent,” the lawsuit alleges.
“In short, TikTok’s lighthearted fun comes at a heavy cost,” it said.
The suit marks the latest legal battle for the app. In early November, the US government opened a national security investigation into TikTok, according to the New York Times, potentially looking into whether the app was sending data to China.
Hong alleges that the app retrieved her data without permission — including videos that she had created but not shared online — and transferred them to servers run by companies that cooperate with the Chinese government.
She filed the suit on behalf of the approximately 110 million US residents who have downloaded the app.
TikTok did not immediately reply to AFP’s request for response.
In November, it said it could not comment on a possible US investigation but emphasized that the respect of US users and regulators was its highest priority.
TikTok has distanced itself from Chinese authorities, maintaining that its servers are located outside of the country and that its data is therefore not subject to Chinese law.
In November, the app hit 1.5 billion downloads worldwide, outperforming Instagram.


‘Paranormal’: Netflix’s first Egyptian series whips up social media storm

Updated 12 August 2020

‘Paranormal’: Netflix’s first Egyptian series whips up social media storm

  • The books featured Dr. Rifaat Ismail, a professor of hematology whose life is taken over by supernatural forces

CAIRO: Netflix’s first Egyptian series was trending on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in Egypt as it marked the “anniversary” of the death of its main character, ahead of its release.

“Paranormal,” a horror series which will be available in the fall of 2020, is based on a hugely popular series of books by the writer Ahmed Khaled Towfik. The books featured Dr. Rifaat Ismail, a professor of hematology whose life is taken over by supernatural forces. Towfik turned out new books in the series twice a year from 1993 until 2004, but he killed off his doctor on Aug. 8. The announcement of his death provoked a strong response, with some fans holding private funerals and some strongly attacked the writer.

The Netflix series has also provoked a strong response over the choice of Ahmed Amin in the lead role. Social media users noted the great similarity between Amin and Ismail but were still concerned over Amin’s ability to do the widely loved character justice, since he is mainly known as a comedy actor.

“August 8 ... the anniversary of the passing of Dr. Rifaat Ismail ... the legend of the godfather, that was never just mere fiction ... it made Ismail a true friend of a whole generation ... 81 stories … which we spent our entire pocket money on ... we hid in them at bedtime, so we could hear from Dr. Rifaat,” Amin wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of himself in character.

“Paranormal,” directed by Salama and Majid Al-Ansari, was filmed in Egypt, and written by Dina Maher, Omar Khaled and the Egyptian poet Mahmoud Ezzat, whose latest film “Souad” was nominated for the Cannes Film Festival.

The novels sold more than 15 million copies and have millions of fans across the Arab world. Towfik, who died unexpectedly at the age of 56 a year ago, once said: “I want it written on my grave: ‘He made young adults read’.”

And so it happened: many fans attached notes bearing this phrase to his grave after his death.