After India, US says it is looking at banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok

US lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok's handling of user data.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the United States is "certainly looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, suggesting it shared information with the Chinese government, a charge it denied.

"I don't want to get out in front of the President (Donald Trump), but it's something we're looking at," Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.

In another interview with the channel, US Vice President Mike Pence also said that the country would "continue to take a strong stand" regarding Chinese entities that threaten US security, including potentially the social media app TikTok.

US lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok's handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies "to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party."

 After India, US says it is looking at banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok

TikTok logo

Pompeo said Americans should be cautious in using the short-form video app owned by China-based ByteDance.

"Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party," Pompeo remarked when asked if he would recommend people to download TikTok.

In response to his comments, TikTok told Reuters it has never provided user data to China.

"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 said in an emailed statement.

The app, which is not available in China, has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission and the US Justice Department are also looking into allegations that popular app TikTok failed to live up to a 2019 agreement aimed at protecting children's privacy, according to two people interviewed by the agencies.

(Also read: Boycotting Chinese products: Brands like Xiaomi, Vivo unaffected, but it will severely hurt employment in India)

A staffer in a Massachusetts tech policy group and another source said they took part in separate conference calls with FTC and Justice Department officials to discuss accusations the China-based short video sharing app had failed to live up to an agreement announced in February 2019.

The Center for Digital Democracy, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and others in May asked the FTC look into their allegations TikTok failed to delete videos and personal information about users age 13 and younger as it had agreed to do, among other violations.

Pompeo's remarks also come amid increasing US-China tensions over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, China's actions in the former British colony of Hong Kong, and a nearly two-year trade war.

TikTok was recently banned in India along with 58 other Chinese apps after a border clash between India and China.

Reuters reported late on Monday that TikTok would exit the Hong Kong market within days, after China's establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the city.

Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee of freedoms and far-reaching autonomy under a "one country, two systems" formula agreed with Britain.

With inputs from Reuters

 

 


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