TikTok saw a rise in government demands for user data

Late last year, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance joined the raft of American tech giants that publish the number of government demands for user data and takedown requests by releasing its own numbers. The move was met with heavy skepticism, amid concerns about the app maker’s links to China, and accusations that it poses a threat to U.S. national security, a claim it has repeatedly denied.

In its second and most recent transparency report, published today, TikTok said it received 500 total legal demands, including emergency requests, from governments in the first half of the year, up 67% on the previous half.

TikTok also received 45 government demands to remove contents. India, which submitted the most takedown requests, earlier this month banned TikTok from the country, citing security concerns.

But noticeably absent from the report is China, where TikTok is not available but where its parent, ByteDance, is headquartered. That’s not an uncommon occurrence: Facebook or Twitter, neither of which are available in China, have not received or complied with a demand from the Chinese government. Instead, ByteDance has a separate video app, Douyin, for users in mainland China.

TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide told TechCrunch: “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

“We do not and have not removed any content at the request of the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked,” the spokesperson said.

But the company’s efforts to fall in line with the rest of the U.S. tech scene’s transparency efforts is not likely to quell long-held fears held by the company’s critics, including lawmakers, which last year called on U.S. intelligence to investigate the firm.

TikTok continues to contend that it’s not a threat and that it’s firmly rooted in the United States.

Earlier this week, the company said it was withdrawing from Hong Kong in response to the new Beijing-imposed national security law.