What you need to know
- The U.S. government is considering banning TikTok.
- It is also looking at other Chinese social media apps due to heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing.
- It's over concerns about censorship and data security.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has told Fox News that the U.S. is considering banning TikTok and other Chinese social media platforms in the country.
The U.S. is "looking at" banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Monday.
His comments come amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China and as scrutiny on TikTok and Chinese technology firms continues to grow.
In a Fox News interview, Pompeo was asked if the U.S. should be considering banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, to which he replied:
"We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it."
"We have worked on this very issue for a long time."
Pompeo noted how the government had handled "the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure" and how it had declared ZTE "a danger to American national security", stating that "with respect to Chinese apps on peoples' cellphones, the United States will get this one right too."
Government skepticism over the app seems mostly to be driven by censorship, and fears about data security. When asked if Americans should download TikTok, Pompeo retorted:
"Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."
In a statement of response, a spokesperson for TikTok said that it was led by an American CEO, and "had hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S." It further stated that it had " no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users." TikTok said that it had never provided user data to the Chinese government and that it would not do so if asked.
The news comes following reports that TikTok is pulling out of Hong Kong in the coming days following the enactment of new laws designed to protect national security in the country. Facebook and WhatsApp have already said that they will stop handing over data to Hong Kong authorities due to concerns about the new law. TikTok said that "in light of recent events, we've decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong." As noted by Reuters, Hong Kong represents a small, "loss-making" market for the app.