People should delete TikTok to protect their data, Kiwi boss says

It's addictive and it's entertaining, but one Kiwi boss is warning it's also potentially dangerous.

TikTok, the widely-popular social media app, is filled with dancing teens and funny videos.

But there are reports that the app is collecting sensitive data from users - sparking calls for it to be removed from Google and Apple's app stores

US officials have written an open letter on the issue, claiming alarming amounts of data is being collected by TikTok's owners - Beijing-based ByteDance - which has links to the Chinese Communist Party.

Socialike chief executive Alex Ford told AM those reports should be alarming for New Zealand TikTok users.

"Over the last couple of years, we've been assured that US-based users' data remains in the US so this is going against what we've been told from TikTok and ByteDance," he said. "It's raising concerns that not just US-based users' data's being shared with China but, globally, TikTok users' data is being shared.

"We don't know, specifically, what they're doing with this data but it opens up for a range of assumptions.

"Why does a Government want people's data? The data we're talking about here isn't just your name, phone number [and] email address - it's actually your facial print and your voice print."

Ford has called for TikTok to be removed from Apple and Google's app stores. While doubtful this would happen, he said there was one way Kiwis could protect themselves.

"Delete it," he told AM co-host, Amanda Gillies. "Delete the app, that's it.

"If you look at the terms of the Google Play store and the Apple App Store, TikTok's 100 percent breached these. Apple and Google need to stand up to them but - unfortunately - they probably won't.

"We have seen both app stores delete apps from them in the past but I think, on this occasion, with China being the manufacturing giant that it is for both Google and Apple - it's unlikely."

Earlier this week, a Republican member of the US Communications Commission (FCC) also urged Apple and Google's bosses to boot TikTok from its app stores. 

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a letter to the bosses that TikTok had collected vast troves of sensitive data about US users that could be accessed by ByteDance staff in Beijing.

But a TikTok spokeswoman told Reuters the company's engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, could only be granted access to United States user data "on an as-needed basis" and under "strict controls".