TikTok faces a ban in the United States over concerns that China could use it as a surveillance and propaganda tool, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday evening.
Pompeo opined that Americans should only download the popular Chinese video app only if they want to share their personal information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
TikTok declined Pompeo’s accusations, saying that it is led by an American CEO and employs hundreds of people in the country to work on the app’s safety and security.
”We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure experience for our users,” a spokesperson said. He added that TikTok has never provided user data to the Chinese authorities, and it would not do so if asked.
During the past few years, US lawmakers have become increasingly concerned about TikTok’s internal policies for handling users’ data. Besides, Washington is also worried about the relationship between its parent company, the Beijing-based ByteDance, and the Chinese Government.
According to some US politicians, TikTok could be compelled to exchange users’ data with the Chinese intelligence services and the Chinese Communist Party.
TikTok said on numerous occasions that it works separately from ByteDance. It also highlighted that its data centers are located abroad, not in China. In addition, none of the company’s data is subject to Chinese law. The American users’ data is stored in the United States with a backup in Singapore, the firm confirmed.
TikTok has become the first Chinese social media platform to gain significant popularity outside of mainland China. According to the analytics firm Sensor Tower, it was downloaded 315 million times in the first three months of 2020, more quarterly downloads than any other app so far.
On the heel of Pompeo’s accusations, TikTok announced it would quit Hong Kong ”within days” after Beijing imposed new, controversial security law on the city.
Last week, the Indian Government announced it would ban TikTok and WeChat and other popular Chinese apps over allegations that they could be engaged in activities that could potentially harm India’s sovereignty and integrity.
TikTok declined the accusations saying that it will continue to comply with the national security regulations. The company also noted it had not shared any local users’ information with any foreign government, including the Chinese.
What do you think? Do you support or oppose Pompeo’s idea to ban TikTok in the United States?