The US is considering a ban on Chinese social media apps like the popular video-sharing platform TikTok, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Monday.
“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.
A TikTok spokesperson responded to Pompeo’s remarks Tuesday in a statement, writing “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.”
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.”