MANILA, Philippines – Popular video sharing social network TikTok revealed in its first transparency report – released earlier this week on December 30, 2019 but which covers a period from January 1 to June 30, 2019 – the list of countries which requested either access to user data or the removal of specific content on the network.
According to the transparency report, India and the US had the most requests for information – at 107 requests comprising 143 accounts for India and 79 requests comprising 255 accounts in the US.
India and the US also had the most content removal requests. India had 11 government requests specifiying 9 different accounts, leading to 8 accounts removed or restricted, and 4 pieces of content removed or restricted. The US made 6 government requests, specifying 7 different accounts, leading to 7 accounts being removed or restricted and one piece of content being removed or restricted.
ByteDance’s report also noted a conspicuous absence, as China did not make any takedown requests or requests from user information during the period specified. This may be due to the parent company ByteDance having the Chinese version of TikTok, known as Douyin, run as a separate business.
Also noticeable is that Hong Kong isn’t mentioned at all. It should be noted, however, that most TikTok statements in support of the Hong Kong protests happened beyond the reflected date on the transparency report. (READ: TikTok sued in U.S. over alleged China data transfer)
In a blog post on December 31, Eric Ebenstein, TikTok’s head of public policy, said of their transparency report, “We are committed to enabling our users to create and have fun in a safe and supportive environment. We believe that when people feel safe, their creativity can flourish. That’s why we want to be transparent about how we work appropriately with the legitimate requests of governments and law enforcement authorities.”
Ebenstein added, “TikTok is committed to assisting law enforcement in appropriate circumstances while at the same time respecting the privacy and rights of our users.” – Rappler.com