TikTok reportedly went around a privacy safeguard in Android operating systems to collect unique identifiers, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.
The Android app collected users’ MAC (media access control) addresses for 18 months, and the addresses could potentially allow the app to track users online without letting them opt out.
Both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store banned apps from collecting MAC addresses by 2015. It appears that TikTok was able to get the addresses through a loophole. The Wall Street Journal found that almost 350 apps in the Google Play Store had used this loophole for targeted ads.
TikTok stopped collecting the addresses last year in November after, which is reportedly linked to political pressure from the U.S.
“We constantly update our app to keep up with evolving security challenges, and the current version of TikTok does not collect MAC addresses,” a spokesperson for TikTok told The Verge. The spokesperson stated that the company always encourages users to download the most current version of TikTok.
This report comes at a time when TikTok is facing increased pressure from the Trump administration and is facing a potential ban unless it sells its U.S. operations to an American company within 45 days.
TikTok is currently in talks with Microsoft regarding a possible deal, but there aren’t many details regarding the potential acquisition or how it may play out.