The US Government is considering a ban on Chinese social media apps including TikTok a popular video-sharing platform. Which is owned by a Chinese-based ByteDance company that has been downloaded more than 2 billion times worldwide. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told during an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Monday.
When asked if people should download it, Pompeo said. “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party”. Though the app has previously said it operates separately from them. They also claim its data centers are located outside China and not subject to Chinese law. As the BBC reports, the video-sharing service has also decided to exit Hong Kong. Following the introduction of a new security law imposed by the Chinese government.
“We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it,” Pompeo said. “Concerning Chinese apps on peoples’ cellphones, the United States will get this one right too.”
TikTok was not available to US smartphones until 2018 when the American app musical.ly merged with TikTok in a one billion dollar business deal. For the last few years, American lawmakers have developed concerned over TikTok’s handling of user data and its relationship between its parent company ByteDance, and the Chinese government.
Administrators claim that TikTok could be used into handing over data or other intelligence to the Chinese Communist Party. A TikTok spokesperson responded to Pompeo’s remarks Tuesday in a statement, saying. “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. 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.”
TikTok says it stores US user data on servers that are located in the US and backed up in Singapore. None of the data centers it uses are located within China.
The app has been catching the eyes of data analysts. Researchers at Penetrum find the app’s code could allow TikTok to upload malware on whatever device it is installed on. Jeremy Straub, associate director of the Institute for Cyber Security Education and Research at NDSU, said in a possible ban. The United States government is weighing the balance of protecting the public while keeping speech free and open.
Straub explained the two primary types of information that could be used by the app. Content users permit it to collect, and content users post or generate.
“The fact that people are intentionally sharing this user captured content of themselves and others makes it where the sky is the limit on what types of information may be out there on the surface,” Straub added.
TikTok’s terms of service agreements are broad according to Straub. Hence the user gives the company permission to do virtually anything with the content posted there. He said it is worth noting, the agreements are highly similar to those of Facebook and Twitter. Along with other commonly used social media apps owned by American companies.
Also, the Indian government has announced that it would ban TikTok and other popular Chinese apps like WeChat. Over allegations that they are “engaged in activities prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India.”
However, TikTok responded to the Indian government’s statements, stating. “TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government.”