The United States is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News’s Laura Ingraham Tuesday.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too, Laura,” he said in response to Ingraham’s questioning whether the United States should consider such a ban. “I don’t want to get out in front of the President [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at.”
Pompeo warned that people should only use the short-form video app, which was downloaded 315 million times in the first three months of this year, “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
The secretary’s remarks are the latest in a sign of escalating tensions between the United States and China, which have influenced national security, trade, and technology.
U.S. politicians have said the app’s ties to China make it a threat to national security, as the company could be compelled to “support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Last week, India announced it would ban TikTok and other well-known Chinese apps because they pose a “threat to sovereignty and integrity.”
TikTok is owned by a Beijing-based startup ByteDance, but maintains that it operates separately from the Chinese company, with data centers located outside of the Communist state, and is therefore not subject to Chinese law. U.S. user data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore, CNN reported.
“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.,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”