The U.S. government is seeking to ban Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, over a security threat, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the talk with Fox News Laura Ingraham.
He also discouraged people from downloading the app, warning that it would put their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).”
Pompeo said that the administration is taking the issue seriously, saying, “With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too, Laura,” he said. “I don’t want to get out in front of the President [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at.”
The video app, owned by Beijing-based startup ByteDance has seen exponential growth in recent years with 70 million-80 million active users in the United States according to NBC News. The company claimed that its data center is not located inside China, and none of that data is subject to Chinese law, as laid out by CNN. Its representative denounced the security concerns as well, claiming it to be “unfounded” and that “they have never provided user data to the Chinese government [CCP], nor would we do so if asked.”
Yet, U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly expressed concerns about the company’s ties to the CCP and the counterintelligence risk that it poses.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) affirmed that the app company includes CCP membership and that it is required by CCP law to share user data with Beijing. Hawley pushed forward new legislation to ban TikTok from all federal employees, on all government devices in March 2020.
The Washington Post stated that the U.S. Army has banned TikTok on military devices, signaling growing concern about the app’s Chinese roots.
India declared its ban on TikTok together with another 58 Chinese apps amid its mounting strain with the CCP over border conflicts, citing security concerns.
TikTok’s security is also questioned in Australia and a ban is being weighed. 7News Australia cited the country’s Treasurer Josh Frydenberg who said, “We’re very concerned about foreign interference and social media platforms and the spread of fake news. These are issues that we are talking to our Five Eyes partners about, taking advice from security agencies and the steps we take … will be based on the advice we get.”