The United States is looking into the idea of banning TikTok and other social media apps from China over national security concerns. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, that while he didn’t want to announce anything final, the federal government was taking the idea “very seriously.”
When asked if the U.S. should consider banning apps like TikTok — as India has — Pompeo said that it was something the administration was looking at for some time, CNBC reports.
“We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it,” Pompeo said. “We have worked on this very issue for a long time.”
The news comes as tensions have ramped up between the U.S. and China over the latter’s’ handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Pompeo went on to address those tensions, explaining that the administration had already tackled issues with ZTE and Huawei, two Chinese telecommunication companies.
“Whether it was the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure we’ve gone all over the world and we’re making real progress getting that out. We declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” Pompeo said.
“With respect to Chinese apps on peoples’ cellphones, the United States will get this one right too,” he added.
The Trump administration has been aggressive in its campaign against Chinese technology firms, which officials say present a security issue to Americans. Huawei, for instance, is accused of having equipment that could be used for espionage.
The administration is reportedly worried that TikTok could present a similar risk to Americans if its data was access by Beijing. The app also censors content, presenting a second concern. While the company hired former Disney executive Kevin Mayer as CEO to help alleviate some of these worries, the White House is apparently keeping the social media app in its crosshairs.
Pompeo warned that citizens shouldn’t download and use the app unless they were ok with their information being accessed by “the Chinese Communist Party.”
TikTok pushed back on Pompeo’s assertion, saying that they had an American CEO and many people employed with a focus on maintaining security and safety for their users. They have also said that they store all user data in the U.S. and it is backed up in Singapore.
“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,” a spokesperson said.