Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broadened his considerations on the ban on the TikTok mobile app, saying it was just one of several Chinese companies to be held accountable for the threat to American data.
“We have been continually evaluating to ensure that we protect the privacy of American citizens and their information … This is not related to a particular company or entity, but rather to the United States’ national security,” Pompeo said during a press conference .
But experts in China are reading the tea leaves that a ban on TikTok is imminent as the US puts pressure on Chinese companies.
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President Donald Trump said in an interview with Gray Television yesterday: “Yes, we’ll look at it,” he said when asked about Pompeo’s comments. Trump also said the ban was “one of many” ways to punish China for its coronavirus response.
TikTok was invented in the USA and then taken over by the Chinese company ByteDance with its headquarters in Beijing. According to Chinese law, every Chinese company can confiscate all data. There is no adequate protection against government intrusions, like here in the United States, that opens the door to large-scale transfers of American data to the Chinese, which are normally unknown to American citizens.
“Basically, any Chinese technology when you generate data and use Chinese technology, be it a Lenovo laptop, a Huawei phone, or a TikTok app, runs the risk that all of that data will go to the Chinese government,” he said Roslyn Layton, co-founder of Chinatechthreat.com, said in an interview with Fox News.
According to Layton, a common misconception is that TikTok is also used in China but is not effective there. The social media app promotes free creative expression, which contradicts the control of freedom of speech by Chinese propaganda authorities. There is no reciprocity with mobile apps either. Apps made in the U.S. are not allowed to be sold in China, the opposite is the case in the U.S.
Some experts and elected representatives are asking Americans not to download the app.
“It captures your geolocation in real time. This is a problem for soldiers and military personnel because they can be identified by the Chinese government. It is a problem for children. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok for illegally collecting child information … They also wanted to censor these videos for your convictions [on Hong Kong]”said Layton, who also served as a consultant to Trump’s FCC transition team in 2016.
TikTok has denied that it collects data from Americans, and Fox News said in a statement: “TikTok is managed by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key security, product and public policy executives here in the United States. We have no higher. ” Priority as promoting a secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, and neither would we if we were asked to do so. “
However, the White House does not appear to have been convinced by this assessment. The options available to the president include issuing a proclamation that forces the sale of business interests in the app, or other sanctions against the parent company.
TikTok reported 30 million monthly active users in the US in May and is popular with people between 16 and 24 years old. Due to the corona virus locks, the use of the app has increased dramatically this spring compared to a year ago.