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January 3, 2020

TikTok rejected Pakistan’s sole request for user information in 2019: report


Fri, Jan 03, 2020

Pakistan’s sole request for user information to the Chinese-owned TikTok in 2019 was not complied with, it was revealed in the first Transparency Report released by the company recently.

Between January 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019, India and the US topped the list of countries seeking details from the social media giant, followed by Japan.

In the six-month period, TikTok received 79 requests for user data from the US. The company complied with 86 per cent of the requests amid concerns from the US lawmakers over its ties with the Chinese government.

From India, where the video sharing app is one of the most popular social media apps, it received 107 requests for user data and 11 requests for content takedowns, of which 47 per cent were complied.

It is pertinent to mention that there was no request from China as it does not operate in the country. “TikTok is committed to assisting law enforcement in appropriate circumstances while at the same time respecting the privacy and rights of our users,” said Public Policy chief Eric Ebenstein.

In total, the company received 298 legal requests for information from 28 countries over the aforementioned period.

Nine countries, including Australia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, UK and the US forwarded 26 requests to remove or restrict content, of which only eight were accepted.

It received 3,345 complaints for copyrights violation and considered 85 per cent of the requests valid.

TikTok in headlines

In Pakistan, TikTok has been in the headlines recently over a variety of reasons. Hareem Shah and Sandal Khattak’s videos with senior politicians have put the app on the map. A Sialkot boy’s death while making a TikTok video also made the headlines.

However, it is surprising that despite TikTok being one of the most popular social media apps among Pakistani youth, local authorities made just a single request, and even that was rejected.

Our pictures are being edited, says Tiktok star Hareem Shah

Nonetheless, Digital rights expert and founder of media lab Asad Beyg commended the reported and termed it “a step in the right direction”.

“It's good to see that most platforms are now issuing transparency reports. I strongly believe that all local and international bodies and companies, which can make Internet and content-related decisions, should be transparent,” he said.

“Only one legal request for user information and 0 requests for content removal show that TikTok in Pakistan remains a relatively open platform.”

Beyg, however, advised Tiktok “to improve its community standards with regards to dangerous content”.

Most downloaded social media app

With 18.5 million downloads, TikTok was the most downloaded social media app in Pakistan in 2019, followed by Facebook with 17.6 million downloads, according to the latest figures shared by US-based market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

Compiled by Mobile Insights Strategist Craig Chapple, the data shows that TikTok surpassed 1.5 billion downloads globally on the App Store and Google Play as it continues to be one of the world’s most popular apps.

World's hottest app?

Bytedance, the Chinese owner of the app, has invested heavily in marketing and user acquisition for TikTok to expand its international growth, said Chapple.