US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was “definitely” considering a ban on Chinese social media apps such as TikTok. In an interview with Fox News, he suggested that the apps share information with the Chinese government. TikTok denies this.
U.S. officials had previously raised concerns about potential risks to national security, as TikTok could share data with the Chinese government. Members of Congress are concerned about Chinese legislation that requires companies to cooperate with intelligence agencies.
Pompeo said Americans should be careful with TikTok, which allows users to make short videos. The app is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Asked if he would recommend the app, Pompeo replied, “Only if you want your private data to fall into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
In response to Pompeo’s statements, TikTok said it never provided user data to the Chinese government and would never do so, even if the Chinese authorities so require. “Safe use is our top priority,” the company told Britain’s Reuters news agency.
TikTok is not available in China itself. ByteDance wants to distance itself as much as possible from the homeland in order to make the app more attractive to a global audience.
Pompeo’s comments on TikTok come at a time when U.S.-China relations are already under pressure. The two major powers are at odds over the origin of the new coronavirus and China’s recent decision to introduce a new security law for Hong Kong. According to the US, China wants to enslave the people of the former British crown colony with the help of this law.