TikTok steps up transparency efforts after privacy concerns in United States

Several US agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 March 2020

TikTok steps up transparency efforts after privacy concerns in United States

  • Several US agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app

Social media app TikTok is launching a content moderation center in a bid to boost transparency, the Chinese company said on Wednesday, as it faces scrutiny from US lawmakers who have accused it of sharing user data with the Chinese government.
The “Transparency Center” is to be opened at TikTok’s Los Angeles office where external experts will oversee its operations, the company said in its blog.
The center would later provide insights into the app’s source code, the closely guarded internal instructions of the software, and offer more details on privacy and security.
Several US agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app, whose popularity among teenagers has been growing rapidly.
According to a 2017 Chinese law, companies operating in the country are required to cooperate with the government on national intelligence.
The US Navy banned the app in December from its government issued mobile devices, calling it a “cybersecurity threat.” Later that month, TikTok published its first transparency report on the “volume and nature” of governmental requests for its users’ account information.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley called for a blanket ban on the app for all federal employees last week, representing a broader concern among lawmakers about collection and sharing of data on US users with the Chinese government.
The company has however refuted claims and has said that US user data is stored in the United States and that China does not have jurisdiction over content that is not in China.
TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, allows users to create and share short videos with special effects, and is hugely popular in Southeast Asia, including India.


Facebook creates unit devoted to financial services

Updated 11 August 2020

Facebook creates unit devoted to financial services

  • The Novi wallet — set to launch when Libra coins debut — promises to give Facebook opportunities to build financial services into its offerings
  • Facebook Financial will handle management and strategy for all payments and money services across the platform

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook on Monday said it has created a new unit devoted to financial services to harmonize payment systems on its platform.
The new group, called Facebook Financial, will be headed by e-commerce veteran David Marcus, who was a president at PayPal before joining the leading social network six years ago.
Marcus is one of the creators of Facebook’s digital money network Libra, and heads the team building a Novi digital wallet tailored for the currency.
The Novi wallet — set to launch when Libra coins debut — promises to give Facebook opportunities to build financial services into its offerings, offer to expand its own commerce and let more small businesses buy ads on the social network.
Facebook Financial will handle management and strategy for all payments and money services across the Silicon Valley company’s platform.
“Today various payments features exist across our apps, and we want to make sure decision making, execution and compliance are not fragmented,” Facebook said in an email reply to an AFP inquiry.
“We want to be able to give people the ability to make a payment however they choose — debit, credit or Libra digital currencies.”
Noting security concerns posed by Facebook’s yet-to-be-launched digital currency Libra, the Federal Reserve last week revealed plans for its own instant payments system.
FedNow will provide households and businesses with instant access to payments, for wages, government benefits or sales, without waiting days for checks to clear, the Fed said.
The system, which is not due to launch for two to three years, “will be designed to maintain uninterrupted 24x7x365 processing with security features to support payment integrity and data security,” the central bank said.
Facebook’s announcement last year of plans to design the Libra cryptocurrency and payments system raised immediate red flags for global finance officials who expressed a barrage of withering criticism about the security and reliability of a private network.