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US considering banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps, Pompeo says

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued the app should only be downloaded 'if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.'

The United States is considering restricting user's access to the social media app TikTok over concerns that the Chinese Communist Party is collecting private information, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham, Pompeo said he didn't want to "get ahead" of any presidential announcement. 

"With respect to Chinese apps on people's cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too," Pompeo said. "But, it is something we are looking at." 

Pompeo added that people should only download TikTok, a social media app where users can generate 3 to 60 seconds loop able clips, "if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."

When asked directly whether the U.S. should be considering a ban on Chinese social media apps, specifically TikTok, Pompeo said they were taking this "very seriously" and "we're certainly looking at it." 

Operated by Chinese internet giant Bytedance, TikTok has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots while striving for global appeal. It recently hired former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer to be its CEO.

Credit: AP
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo testifies during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The company has said all its data is stored in servers in the U.S. and insisted it would not remove content even if asked to do so by the Chinese government.

"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," 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." 

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Last week, India banned dozens of Chinese apps, including TikTok, amid a military standoff with China.

India’s information technology ministry issued a statement saying it had received reports that mobile apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data."

The compilation of such data, and its mining and profiling by elements hostile to India is “a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the statement said.

On Tuesday, the social media company announced it will stop operations in Hong Kong after the city enacted a sweeping national security law last week. The company said Tuesday in a statement that it had decided to halt operations “in light of recent events.” 

RELATED: TikTok to leave Hong Kong as security law raises questions

Credit: TEGNA