TikTok might be at the risk of losing yet another market. The United States is “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps such as TikTok, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.
When asked by Fox News host Laura Ingraham whether the U.S. is considering a ban on China-based apps, Pompeo claimed that the government is taking it “very seriously.”
Pompeo also brought to the attention the security concerns that have plagued TikTok over the past year, warning viewers that they should only download the app if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too, Laura. I don’t want to get out in front of the President [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at,” he added.
“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.,” said a TikTok spokesperson in a statement sent to Digital Trends. “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.”
After China and India, the U.S. is TikTok’s third-largest market. As per Sensor Tower, the U.S. accounts for nearly 8% of TikTok’s total lifetime downloads.
A week ago, Pompeo had also applauded India’s ban on dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok. “We welcome India’s ban on certain mobile apps that can serve as appendages of the CCP’s surveillance state,” Pompeo said in a briefing at the time. “India’s Clean App approach will boost India’s sovereignty. It will also boost India’s integrity and national security, as the Indian government itself has stated.”
TikTok, which is owned by China-based startup Bytedance, has been increasingly posed as a national security threat in the United States. The government has already banned it from several federal agencies including the Navy and Army, citing similar security concerns. In February last year, TikTok was also fined $5.7 million for violating COPPA, a children’s privacy law. Later in November, the U.S. government launched a national security investigation into the app.
In an attempt to put some of these concerns to rest, TikTok has been actively distancing itself from its Chinese roots by setting up offices in the United States and hiring former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its CEO.
On Monday, July 6, TikTok announced it would pull out of Hong Kong due to a controversial, new security law that threatens free speech in the country.
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