Researcher claims Tik Tok able to track users' keystrokes

Revelation comes as Congress explores what actions to potentially take against TikTok when it comes to privacy.

Updated: August 20, 2022 - 11:12pm

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New research from a former Google engineer warns TikTok has the ability to track user keystrokes in its Web browser, a claim that is alarming privacy advocates but receiving pushback from the platform's parent company.

The research from Felix Krause, a Vienna-based privacy researcher, did not explain how TikTok used the capability. But Krause warned TikTok had built functionality to track users' online habits if it chose to do so.

"This was an active choice the company made," Krause said. "This is a non-trivial engineering task. This does not happen by mistake or randomly."

Forbes magazine reported the tracking would make it possible for TikTok to capture a user's credit card information or password.

The revelation comes as congressional lawmakers explore what actions to potentially take against TikTok and other Chinese companies when it comes to privacy.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese internet firm ByteDance, said the report was "incorrect and misleading" and that the feature was used for "debugging, troubleshooting and performance monitoring" and not for tracking user behavior.