Google, TikTok Poised To Integrate Search Feature Raising Security Fears

Chinese-owned TikTok has for years been accused of passing user data gathered on its app to the Chinese government. A recent news report by Business Insider shows that the company is working with Google to integrate the tech giant’s search engine with TikTok. The companies claim that the integration will provide a more seamless search experience for users by tapping into the power of the world’s largest search engine.

Google is currently facing numerous antitrust lawsuits in the United States after the Department of Justice and numerous states have alleged unfair business practices resembling the oil barons of the 19th and 20th centuries that used their power and influence to prevent small businesses from developing.

Over the last several years, a number of stories have emerged concerning the threat that TikTok presents to Google’s business plan. Integrating with TikTok is exactly the type of behavior that the antitrust lawsuits are targeting, though the most recent collaboration is not mentioned in any of the suits. By reducing TikTok’s search feature in favor of its own, Google effectively is silencing one of its greatest rivals in the quest for more clicks.

TikTok is also at the center of a controversy with the U.S. government. The U.S. Army and Navy have both banned the use of TikTok by service members over concerns the app could share confidential data, including the location of troops. India has also banned TikTok in the country over privacy concerns.

Not only have several government agencies moved to block the social media app, but some private companies have done the same. Wells Fargo does not allow TikTok on any company devices. Amazon attempted a similar policy but ultimately backed down on censoring employee use of the app.

The core concern with TikTok is the way in which the company harvests data. The app gains access to all sorts of information on a user’s device and can easily be accessed by hackers to find personal passwords, identifying records, and dozens of other sensitive topics. As a Chinese company, the laws in that country require the company to surrender any data at the request of the government. While there is no direct evidence this has happened, the possibility is simply too great to ignore.

The current deal between Google and TikTok is largely hidden in the shadows. Neither company has commented on the financial relationship between integrating Google on TikTok, nor have the full details of the plan been publicly presented. However, users have noted that TikTok searches now offer a way to jump directly to Google when searching for information.