By Arjun Kharpal
The U.S. is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Monday. His comments come amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China and as scrutiny on TikTok and Chinese technology firms continue to grow. When asked in a Fox News interview if the U.S. should be looking at banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Pompeo said: “We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it.”
“We have worked on this very issue for a long time,” he said. “Whether it was the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure we’ve gone all over the world and we’re making real progress getting that out. We declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” Pompeo added, citing the two Chinese teleommunications networking companies. “With respect to Chinese apps on peoples’ cellphones, the United States will get this one right too. ”TikTok was not immediately available for comment when contacted
Washington has been on a campaign against Chinese technology firms. Huawei in particular has been in the crosshairs. The U.S. maintains that Huawei equipment could be used for espionage by Beijing, and that user data could be compromised. Huawei has repeatedly denied those allegations. But TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has also been on the radar since last year. Washington has been concerned that the platform censors content and that its data could be accessed by Beijing.
TikTok has tried to distance itself from its Chinese parent company. In fact, TikTok was meant to be for the international market while ByteDance runs a separate app in China called Douyin.
The company hired former Disney executive, Kevin Mayer, to be TikTok’s CEO earlier this year. His priority was seen as rebuilding trust with regulators. But the Trump administration still appears skeptical of TikTok. When asked by Fox News if Americans should download the social media app, Pompeo said: “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
TikTok has previously said that U.S. user data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore. The company also said that its data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of their data is subject to Chinese law.