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TikTok Doesn’t Pose Overt U.S. National Security Threat, Researchers Say

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HONG KONG—The computer code underlying TikTok doesn’t pose a national security threat to the U.S., according to a new study by university cybersecurity researchers.

Released Monday by the University of Toronto cybersecurity group Citizen Lab, the report comes after government officials in multiple countries, including in the administration of former President Donald Trump, suggested the popular Chinese-owned short-video app could aid Beijing in spying overseas.

Citizen Lab, which releases regular reports on censorship and surveillance by Chinese social media apps, found no evidence of  “overtly malicious behavior” after a technical analysis of TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd.

The app, built around addictive algorithms that serve up streams of short videos, is no more intrusive than Facebook when it comes to data collection, the researchers found.

The researchers warned that there could be security issues they didn’t find. They also said the Chinese government could use “unconventional ways” to force ByteDance to hand over data using the country’s national security laws.

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