Why the US is ‘very seriously’ looking at banning TikTok

TikTok is in the firing line, along with other Chinese social media apps, according to the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

In a TV cable news interview, Pompeo responded to remarks questioning if the US would ban TikTok, following TikTok being banned in India, and fresh discourse in Australian politics about similarly banning the social media app for its data collection.

Here’s the transcript of Pompeo’s response to the question of a US ban:

  • “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 declared ZTE a danger to American national security.”
  • “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 [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at.”
  • When asked if Americans should download the app, Pompeo said, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
  • In watching the video a few times, Pompeo appeared to be caught by surprise by the direct nature of the question. The angle of the Fox News questioning was deliberately provocative and clearly represents political motivations, not just security.
  • And not wanting to “get ahead” of President Trump implies not wanting to be seen to be first to mention a ban on TikTok. Take that for what you will.

TikTok’s response:

  • In response to Pompeo’s comments, a spokesperson told CNBC: “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.”
  • TikTok says it’s also planning to exit Hong Kong and stop operating because of China’s establishment of new national security laws in the region.
  • Google, Facebook, and Twitter will also change operations in fulfilling data requests

But…

  • TikTok has had an American CEO, ex-Disney exec Kevin Mayer, for exactly 50 days, but has existed since 2016.
  • And data security in terms of operating in China with the Chinese government able to surveil data without not request are what multiple security experts have suggested for years.
  • And Pompeo may just have been mentioning possibilities about security and a ban, in a possible leverage play with China, which already doesn’t allow for US social media apps like Twitter and Facebook in that country.
  • TikTok reached two billion downloads earlier this year.
  • Concerns may be raised about user data collection moving from China’s ByteDance to the Chinese government, but the other angle is that TikTok is too successful for the likes of the US, and its own tech giants challenged by TikTok’s rise.
  • And TikTok really is incredibly successful. Mentioned on here in the past, it’s already hugely influential in how music charts, memes, trends, and the infinite sub-groups of fringe groups that have found a place to hang out together in TikTok. 
  • Any ban will hurt Gen Z’s social life. It may help the likes of Instagram Reels, and Snapchat.
  • And it’ll hurt ByteDance: already the ban in India was said to cost the company $6B. The more lucrative US market could be multiples of this if a long-term, permaban was enacted.

Published by Moey

Inked. Pierced. Chubby. Bearded. Cinephile. Left-arm Palsy-fist.

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