(Reuters) – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the United States is “certainly” considering “banning Chinese social media applications, including TikTok, suggesting that it is sharing information with the Chinese government, an accusation he denied.
“I don’t want to go out in front of the president (Donald Trump), but it’s something we’re looking into,” Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News.
US lawmakers have raised national security concerns over TikTok’s processing of user data, expressing concern over Chinese laws requiring domestic companies to “support and cooperate with intelligence activities controlled by the Chinese Communist Party ”
Pompeo said that Americans should be careful when using the abbreviated video app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.
“Only if you want your private information to be in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” Pompeo said when asked if he would recommend people to download TikTok.
In response to its comments, TikTok told Reuters that it had never provided user data to China.
“We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure application experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, and we would not do so if requested, ”said TikTok in an emailed statement.
The app, which is not available in China, sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.
Pompeo’s remarks also come amid growing tensions between the United States and China over the management of the coronavirus epidemic, China’s actions in the former British colony of Hong Kong, and a trade war of nearly two years.
TikTok was recently banned in India along with 58 other Chinese apps after a border clash between India and China.
Reuters announced on Monday evening that TikTok will leave the Hong Kong market in a few days after China has put in place a new national security law for the city.
Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with the guarantee of freedoms and broad autonomy according to a “one country, two systems” formula agreed with Great Britain.