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TikTok releases transparency report as US lawmakers question Chinese ownership

The video app apparently got no user information requests from China, but plenty from the US.

Tik Tok logo on a phone screen
TikTok's first transparency report reveals that the majority of information requests came from India and the US.
James Martin/CNET

TikTok released its first transparency report this week, revealing that it received no user information requests from China in the first half of 2019. The release follows the US Army and Navy banning the video app, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, from government phones over fears that it's tied to the Chinese government.

The app isn't generally available in China -- the country has an app called Douyin, which has stricter, China-specific content guidelines instead.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2019, the majority of requests -- 107 related to 143 accounts-- came from India, and TikTok gave the country information on 47% of them. The US followed with 79 requests related to 255 accounts, and got details on 86% of its requests. Coming in third was Japan, with 35 requests linked to 39 accounts, for which the company gave information on 21% of them.

"In balancing our responsibilities to law enforcement with our respect for the privacy of our users, we respond only to legally valid requests and only with the requisite amount of information needed," Eric Ebenstein, TikTok's public policy chief, wrote in a release Monday.

Ebenstein promised that its report for the latter half of 2019 will follow "in the coming months."

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