The pressure on Chinese social media app TikTok has ratcheted up, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirming in a TV news interview that the administration is “looking at” a potential ban of the app in the U.S. This follows TikTok’s ban in India last week, and reports suggesting Australia may be looking at similar measures.
The scrutiny on TikTok has scaled with its growth—it now genuinely competes with U.S. platforms such as YouTube and Instagram for installs and users, and the platform has been one of the soaraway successes of the lockdown. But serious security and data privacy concerns have clouded TikTok for more than a year.
India’s ban on TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese apps, followed geopolitical tensions between the two countries as well as new security issues raised about TikTok’s handling of user data and the allegation that this data might be shared with China. TikTok has vigorously denied all such allegations.
Laura Ingraham pressed Pompeo during a Fox News interview late on Monday, July 6, referencing the news from India and Australia, asking that if Chinese social media apps “have the ability to feed information to Beijing… shouldn’t we be considering, right now, tonight, a ban on Chinese social media apps, especially TikTok?”
“We’re taking this very seriously,” Pompeo replied. “We’re certainly looking at it. We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time… With respect to Chinese apps, I can assure you the U.S. will get that one right… I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at.”
In response to Pompeo’s comments, a TikTok spokesperson told me “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.”