If you have a child between the ages of 10 and 15, there’s a pretty good chance he or she is using TikTok. People mainly use the app for imitating dances and producing super-short videos (less than ten seconds). What you likely didn’t know is that TikTok is run by a Chinese state-owned company, ByteDance. The app has the potential to endanger US national security.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating TikTok’s data collection practices after several tech leaders warned against it. The CEO of the online forum Reddit warned that the application is essentially spyware. The app reportedly collects broad information about the phones it’s installed on, even when not in use.
Pompeo Discusses Chinese Firms
“We are taking this very seriously and we are certainly looking at it. We have worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it’s the problem of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure — we’ve gone all over the world and we are making real progress getting that out — we had declared ZTE a danger to American national security.”
Pompeo went so far as to recommend against using TikTok if you didn’t want your personal data in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.
Seeking to keep its presence in a huge market, TikTok pushed back against Pompeo’s accusations. In a statement, the company said, “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 never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
Trump: Something We’re Looking At
— Michael Ron Bowling (@mrbcyber) February 28, 2020
President Trump confirmed his Secretary of State’s comments on Tuesday, though he implied that the reason could be retribution for China’s handling over the coronavirus, rather than national security concerns.
“It’s something we’re looking at, yes,” Trump said when asked to respond to Pompeo’s remarks. “It’s a big business. Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.”
India Leads TikTok Ban
TikTok has already been banned in India on the same grounds, driven by the growing wariness of China and concerns over the data collection practices of Chinese companies.
Beyond Tiktok, India has taken major steps to reign in China’s tech presence in the country. The country has banned nearly 70 mobile apps with connections to the Chinese state, citing data security and privacy concerns. China has attracted global scrutiny over its data practices, notably Communist Party access to customers’ personal data.
However, much like the US, the ban goes well beyond privacy concerns. The tech ban is part of a greater Indian campaign to push Chinese products out of the country. This is also in response to Chinese incursions into Indian territory, culminating in lethal border clashes in June.
China has reacted with predictable anger at both the US and Indian moves to exclude the nation’s state-run tech companies. As China feels increasingly boxed in by a suspicious global community, it will also likely seek ways to retaliate in kind.
- Burger King Announces Partnership with TikTok After U.S. Navy Warns About Ties to China
- Facebook and Instagram Remind Users to Wear Masks
- Facebook on Ad Boycotts: “Facebook Does Not Profit from Hate”