The White House is reviewing the national security risks posed by Chinese apps such as TikTok, WeChat, and more, and could take action on them within weeks, said Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Wednesday, July 15.
“There are a number of administration officials who are looking at the national security risk as it relates to TikTok, WeChat and other apps that have the potential for national security exposure, specifically as it relates to the gathering of information on American citizens by a foreign adversary,” Meadows told reporters traveling from Atlanta to Washington on Air Force One, according to Reuters. “I don’t think there’s any self-imposed deadline for action, but I think we are looking at weeks, not months.”
The comment comes about a week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed in an interview that the United States is “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps such as TikTok and urged citizens to uninstall the apps if they don’t want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
In response, TikTok denied the security risks and the allegations that it sends user data to the Chinese government in a statement at the time.
“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.,” the spokesperson added. “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.”
Over the last few weeks, TikTok has struggled to shake off its Chinese roots that have landed it in trouble in a number of countries. The short-form video app, which is owned by a China-based startup called Bytedance, has already been banned in India, its biggest market, over similar national security concerns.
In addition to roping in former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its CEO, TikTok is now reportedly also considering relocating its headquarters from China to the United States, and is ramping up its team of lobbyists to counter the potential ban in Washington.
- China’s new data security initiative urges tech firms to not install backdoors
- TikTok and WeChat to be banned from U.S. app stores on Sunday
- Judge rules that U.S. government can’t force WeChat off app stores
- Trump signs executive order that could ban TikTok, WeChat in 45 days
- The U.S. also plans action against Chinese apps like WeChat, Pompeo says