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TikTok report says China didn't request user info in the first half of 2019

Igor Bonifacic
·Contributing Writer
·2-min read
SOPA Images via Getty Images
SOPA Images via Getty Images

In its first-ever transparency report, TikTok claims it didn't receive any user information requests from the Chinese government in the first half of 2019. Instead, the majority of both legal and government-related requests came from India. In all, TikTok says it fielded 107 legal requests related to 143 Indian accounts, and provided authorities with user information in 47 percent of cases.

Following India, TikTok received the most user information requests from American authorities. In the US, it got 79 requests related to 255 accounts, and went on to share information in 86 percent of cases. In third was Japan, where authorities requested information 35 times.

"To foster candid dialogue essential to earning and maintaining trust, we are publishing our first transparency report this year, providing insight into how we responsibly respond to legal requests regarding user content," TikTok said. "Through regular updates, we aim to give our community the opportunity to better understand the actions we take on their behalf and evaluate us based on up-to-date information."

While it might be tempting to suggest ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns and operates TikTok, isn't being fully transparent, there's a more likely explanation for any missing Chinese stats. It's that TikTok isn't available in China. In its home country, ByteDance offers a separate but similar app called Douyin. According to a BuzzFeed News report published last year, all of ByteDance's TikTok servers are located outside of China.

The report comes as ByteDance attempts to convince American lawmakers that the Chinese government isn't using TikTok to spy on US citizens. Earlier this week, the US Army, following the Navy, banned the use of the app on government-issued phones out of cybersecurity concerns. ByteDance has reportedly considered selling its stake in TikTok as a way to address those concerns. In the meantime, TikTok says it will issue a transparency report for the second half of 2019 sometime in the next few months.