President Trump said his administration is weighing whether to ban Chinese social media apps, such as TikTok.
“It’s something we’re looking at. Yes,” Trump told journalist Greta Van Susteren on Tuesday. “Look what happened with China with this virus — what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful. And we are looking at numerous different things. TikTok’s one of them — one of many.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made similar comments Monday, saying “we’re taking this very seriously.”
Pompeo warned that people in the United States should download the app “only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
A TikTok spokesperson denied it was in cahoots with the Chinese government. “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” the spokesperson said.
TikTok, owned by Beijing-based startup ByteDance, has said it stores its data from U.S. users within the United States and has a backup in Singapore. The short form video app, which is growing in popularity, said none of its data centers are located in China, where it would be subject to Chinese law.
The Trump administration’s comments come amid increased tensions between the U.S. and China involving trade, national security, and the coronavirus pandemic. U.S. politicians have raised concerns that the company could be forced to work with Chinese intelligence services.
Last week, the Indian government said it would ban the popular app and dozens of other Chinese apps amid a heated border dispute with China.
TikTok said Monday it was ceasing operations in Hong Kong after China imposed a controversial “national security” law there.