U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the administration is considering a restriction or ban on Chinese social-media apps such as TikTok, and said Americans should avoid downloading the app in order to avoid providing the Communist Party of China with their personal information.
Pompeo made the remarks on Fox News Channel’s The Ingraham Angle after host Laura Ingraham asked if the United States should “be considering, right now, tonight, a ban on Chinese social-media apps, especially TikTok?”
Laura, your viewers should know we’re taking this very seriously. We’re certainly looking at it. We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it was the problems of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure — we’ve gone all over the world and we’re making real progress getting that out. We have declared ZTE a danger to American national security. We’ve done all of these things. With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you, the United States will get this one right too, Laura. I don’t want to get out in front of the president, but it’s something we’re looking at.
The secretary of state added that people should only download TikTok “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
TikTok, a short-form video social-media app (comparable to Instagram, except focused on videos rather than images) announced Tuesday that it is withdrawing from Hong Kong in response to the major national-security law passed by Beijing that is seen to break down many of the freedoms Hong Kong currently enjoys.
“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations” in Hong Kong, said TikTok spokeswoman Cheryl Long in a statement.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reacted to TikTok’s decision at a briefing. “We hope that the parties concerned will view China’s legitimate rights to safeguard its sovereignty and security in a fair, objective and rational manner,” he said, encouraging them to “be cautious and prudent on Hong Kong-related issues, and do not selectively set up obstacles, nor politicize the issue.”
The app is owned by Beijing tech giant ByteDance. The company tried to market itself as trustworthy with users’ personal data. It is the international version of Douyin, an equivalent app ByteDance developed for mainland China.
TikTok’s move is in line with other social-media giants who say they are reviewing their operations in Hong Kong in light of the new law.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter, for example, have put a hold on sharing information with Hong Kong law enforcement.
The new law, which the Chinese government claims is necessary to establish stability and to end the mass protests that have taken place over the last year, strikes down many of the liberties present in Hong Kong since it was returned to China from Britain in 1997.
For example, the law ends Hong Kong’s independent judiciary by allowing mainland, Beijing-controlled judges into the city for the first time. Local police have been given broad surveillance powers that do not require judicial oversight. The law also gives Beijing legislation supremacy over Basic Law, Hong Kongs’ constitution.
While Basic Law says the central government cannot interfere in the running of Hong Kong, the new law embeds government officials from the mainland in Hong Kong’s government.
Moreover, the law has established government censorship. According to reports, the books of anti-Beijing activists are no longer available in public libraries. Protest walls have been scrubbed, protest slogans have been modified, and people possessing flags promoting Hong Kong independence have been arrested.
Despite recent events, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who is backed by Beijing, has tried to downplay the situation.
“Surely, this is not doom and gloom for Hong Kong,” she told her weekly news conference Tuesday, according to Reuters. “I’m sure, with the passage of time … confidence will grow in ‘one country, two systems’ and in Hong Kong’s future.”
While the creeping rise of China in the tech world is cause for concern, are Americans in better hands with their own “domestic” companies? Are companies such as Facebook and Google, which regularly censor and deplatform users with right-of-center political views, and which unethically capture and release users’ private information, any more trustworthy than TikTok?
Now more than ever, it would be wise for users to exercise caution with any social-media service.
Luis Miguel is a marketer and writer whose journalistic endeavors shed light on the Deep State, the immigration crisis, and the enemies of freedom. Follow his exploits on Facebook, Twitter, Bitchute, and at luisantoniomiguel.com.