KEY POINTS

  • Chinese social media video app TikTok releases its first-ever transparency report covering the first half of 2019
  • The report comes following the recent ban by the US Navy and US Army
  • TikTok's transparency report is an attempt to convince the US that the Chinese government is not using the app to spy on the US government and its citizens

Chinese social media startup TikTok released its first-ever transparency at the same convenient time that the US Military announces its ban. The US Military bans the app amidst cybersecurity concerns. The transparency report reveals how many times government and law enforcement agencies requested for its content to be removed or to hand over users' information.

In its first transparency report, TikTok says that the Chinese government did not make any request for users' data or content removal for the first half of 2019. The US submitted a total of 85 applications, the report reveals. The social media startup owned by a Chinese firm ByteDance, and among its accusations include censoring contents that would anger the Chinese government.

The majority of legal and government-related requests came from India, according to the company's transparency report. India alone made 107 legitimate requests related to 143 Indian accounts with the company providing the authorities 47% of the claims. Second to India is the US, which submitted 79 requests related to 255 user accounts.

The company provided information to 86 percent of the US request, according to the TikTok transparency report. Following the US is Japan, which submitted information request 35 times. "To foster candid dialogue essential to earning and maintaining trust, we are publishing our first transparency report this year, providing insight into how we responsibly respond to legal requests regarding user content," TikTok stated. "Through regular updates, we aim to give our community the opportunity to better understand the actions we take on their behalf and evaluate us based on up-to-date information."

Although it is tempting to suggest that ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, is not being fully transparent in its report, there is perhaps a reasonable explanation for the missing Chinese stats. It might be because the app is not available in China. In China, ByteDance has a different but similar app called Douyin. All TikTok servers are situated outside China, reports BuzzFeed.

It appears that TikTok released its first-ever transparency report, which covers the first half of 2019 as an attempt to convince US lawmakers and government institutions that the Chinese government is not using the app to spy on the US and its citizens. The US Navy already banned TikTok, and the US Army followed soon a few days later.