During an interview on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that US authorities are considering a ban on TikTok and other social media apps that were developed in China.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too. I don’t want to get out in front of the President, but it’s something we’re looking at,” he said.
Pompeo added that US citizens should only download the app, “If you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
The company behind TikTok has been forced to respond to the issue by emphasizing their ties in the US and insisting that they have never shared information with the Chinese government and would not do so if they were asked.
“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US. 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 TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.
US certainly looking at ban on Chinese apps, including TikTok: Mike Pompeo | https://bit.ly/2ZMBZRU
Posted by The Economic Times on Monday, July 6, 2020
It is now well-established that basically every app on your phone is harvesting your data, but the United States government and many of its allies have chosen to focus on TikTok specifically because it is owned by a company based in China, ByteDance.
However, TikTok insists that it operates independently of ByteDance, and promises that all of its data centers are located outside of China. The company says that US user data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore.
TikTok has also received criticism for a feature that collects information from the “clipboards” of iPhone users. Last week, security experts warned that this feature could allow the app to collect sensitive information from your phone, such as email passwords or cryptocurrency wallets.
The flaw was discovered after the new developer beta release of iOS 14 began telling users that TikTok was accessing their clipboards.
TikTok responded to the controversy by insisting that this function was built into the app as part of a feature to detect spammy behavior on accounts, but they said the feature is still in beta and has not been rolled out to users yet.
In light of the controversy about how the feature works, the company has promised to stop collecting data from iPhone clipboards.
TikTok has quickly become one of the most popular social media apps in the world but has recently faced roadblocks in countries where diplomacy with China has deteriorated.
India, for example, banned the application along with a list of others connected to China last week. The ban comes at a time of heightened tensions between China and India, as clashes have taken place along the border between the two countries in recent weeks.
As a result of the ban in India, the company stands to lose an estimated $6 billion.
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