The Untied States is reportedly considering possibly banning certain Chinese social media mobile apps, including the extremely popular short-video streaming platform TikTok. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated on Monday that they are "looking" into the possible ban of the apps.
Pompeo made the remark during an interview with Fox News. He stated that the government is taking the issue very seriously and that they are looking into the possible ramification of taking such an action. Pompeo disclaimed that he didn't want to get ahead of US President Donald Trump but he confirmed that the topic is being discussed at the White House. In terms of his own point of view on the matter, Pompeo sarcastically noted that people should only down those kinds of apps if they want their private information to be collected by the Chinese Communist Party.
In response to Pompeo's remarks, TikTok mentioned in a statement that the app is actually run by an American chief executive officer along with hundreds of US employees. The company also employs professionals tasked with ensuring the safety and security of its product and to make sure that it adheres to all laws and regulations. A company spokesperson added that the safety and security of its users is its highest priority and that it would never provide user data to the Chinese government.
The statement comes as the tensions between China and the US have spilled over into other industries such as trade, finance, and tech. Similar to how Huawei has been singled out; TikTok has recently become the target of US lawmakers and politicians who are pushing the country's national security agenda.
The app, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, has been accused of having ties to the Chinese government. Critics have pointed out that allowing the app in the country could threaten the country's national security as its operators could be compelled by the Chinese Communist Party to cooperate with its intelligence work.
TikTok had previously clarified that it is actually operating independently from ByteDance. The company also clarified that none of its data centers are located in China, which means that they are not subject to Chinese law. In May, a spokesperson for the company claimed that the national security threat allegations against it were completely "unfounded."
Since the app was released in the US and other western countries in 2017, the social media platform has exploded in popularity. According to analytics firm Sensor Tower, the app was downloaded more than 315 million times in the first three months of this year.