Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US would “certainly look at” banning TikTok, the smash-hit video sharing app. He cited national security concerns in his assessment of the Chinse-owned app, which sends user data back to its creators.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones,” Pompeo told Laura Ingraham of Fox News, “I can assure you the United States will get this one right too. I don’t want to get out in front of the President, but it’s something we’re looking at.”
Pompeo added that Americans should only use TikTok “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
While TikTok refutes that data goes directly to ruling party of China, its communist government maintains a tight grip over all industry. Because of those questions, TikTok is now looking to distance itself from ByteDance, its Beijing-based parent company.
Just last week, the government of India banned TikTok and nearly 60 other Chinese-made apps, citing national security and privacy concerns. The move was a huge blow to TikTok, as India has previously been the app’s second-biggest market. Reports have also surfaced that Australia is considering a ban on the app due to data concerns.
But the social media app, which was popular among American teenagers and college students before blowing up during the COVID era, is looking to brand itself as an American enterprise. “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. “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 willingly removed itself from app stores in Hong Kong on Monday. This came after China passed a controversial security law aimed at weakening Hong Kong’s democracy.