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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. would “certainly look at” banning Chinese social media apps including shortform video app TikTok over national security and privacy concerns.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” Pompeo said in an interview on Monday’s episode of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle. “I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at.”
Pompeo added that people should only download TikTok “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
The news comes as TikTok increasingly looks to distance itself from its parent company, Beijing-based ByteDance. Last week, TikTok, along with 58 other China-made apps, were banned from India over national security and privacy concerns. The ban came as a huge blow to TikTok as India was one of it fastest growing and most profitable markets. There have also been reports that Australia’s government is looking at a ban.
“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.,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Also on Monday evening, TikTok announced it was pulling out of Hong Kong after the city’s government passed a controversial security law last week.
Reuters reported Monday night that the social media giant is removing itself from Apple’s and Google’s app stores for Hong Kong. “In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a TikTok spokesperson told Reuters. The shortform video social network reportedly has 150,000 users in Hong Kong.
TikTok is the latest tech giant to announce that it had reevaluated its operations in Hong Kong following the passing of the territory’s National Security Law, which some observers say will drastically alter Hong Kong’s autonomy and curb speech.
Earlier on Monday, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google and Telegram all said they were suspending cooperation with Hong Kong’s police in relation to requests for user information.
Jul. 6, 9:45 p.m. Updated with Pompeo interview remarks.
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