US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News on Monday that the US is considering banning Chinese social media apps including TikTok (via Reuters).
When asked if people should download TikTok, Pompeo said “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” in a remark that will further fuel US suspicion of Chinese tech companies.
The May 2019 US trade ban placed on Huawei by the Trump administration has crippled Huawei’s European business, with 5G contracts scrapped and smartphones unable to access or run Google apps and services.
Referencing banning Chinese social media apps like TikTok, Pompeo said, “I don’t want to get out in front of the President but it’s something we’re looking at,” while doing exactly that.
It comes the week after the Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok, Weibo and WeChat as concern grows over the link between Chinese companies, their ties to the Communist Party, and international citizens’ data privacy. Neither the US or Indian governments have provided evidence publicly to back up their suspicions.
TikTok’s reputation has not been helped by the news that the app was found to be reading user’s clipboards continuously, though Reddit and LinkedIn were among non-Chinese apps caught doing the same.
In response to Pompeo’s comments, TikTok told Reuters, “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.”
The TikTok app is not available in China, suggesting that the company is trying to distance itself from the Western narrative of mishandling of data.