INTERNATIONAL PERDANANEWS – US Considers Banning Tik Tok because it views the hugely popular social media app as a security threat, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The video app, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has an estimated 65-80 million active monthly users in the U.S., who share 15-second videos with quick edits, music, and filters.
TikTok has exploded in the last year, with over 175 million downloads in the U.S. and over 1 billion users worldwide.
But since last fall, U.S. lawmakers have been calling for an investigation of TikTok’s relationship with its parent company and the Chinese government and of whether those reported ties pose a counterintelligence threat in America.
“ We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it,” Pompeo said. “With respect to Chinese apps on peoples’ cellphones, the United States will get this one right too.”
Over the last few years, US lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned over TikTok’s handling of user data and the relationship between its parent company — the Beijing-based ByteDance — and the Chinese government. Lawmakers allege that TikTok could be pressured into handing over data or other intelligence to the Chinese Communist Party.
On June 30, the FCC announced that both Huawei and ZTE had been designated as national security threats. TikTok seems to be next on the list, as when asked by Fox News if Americans should use the app, Pompeo said, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, but the video-sharing app has been very keen to present itself as in no way beholden to China. In response to Pompeo’s remarks, a TikTok spokesperson said, “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S.
We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
TikTok says it stores US user data on servers located within the US and backed up in Singapore. Apparently none of the data centers it uses are located within China. As the BBC reports, the video-sharing service has also taken the decision to exit Hong Kong following the introduction of a new security law imposed by the Chinese government.
Last week, the Indian government announced that it would ban TikTok and other popular Chinese-connected apps like WeChat over allegations that they are “engaged in activities … prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India.” TikTok responded to the Indian government’s statements, saying, “TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government.”
When asked if he would suggest US citizens use TikTok, Pompeo told Fox News, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” so US Considers Banning Tik Tok.