TikTok should be banned from the U.S. given its role in surveilling Americans, said Gordon Chang, Daily Beast columnist and author of The Great U.S.-China Tech War, offering his comments on the Wednesday edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight.
TikTok is a social media mobile app for sharing short videos. It was developed and is owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance.
Chang stated, “There are two reasons to ban TikTok and other Chinese apps from the United States. One of them is spying … and TikTok has been caught spying as recently as ten days ago by Apple, which pointed out that for the second time, TikTok was surveilling iPhone users. So, this is not a theoretical concern.”
Chang continued, “The other reason is reciprocity. U.S. apps cannot do business in China, so why are we allowing China’s apps to do business in the United States? So, for those two reasons — spying and reciprocity — we need to get TikTok out of the U.S.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the possibility of banning TikTok and other Chinese-owned social media apps from the U.S. in a Monday interview with Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham.
Chang recalled, “Google, Facebook, and Twitter announced that they are no longer responding to requests for user data from the Hong Kong police. That’s an important step forward. Because it subjects those companies to liability, and obviously they want to do business in China. So it was a relatively brave step for them to do.”
“What was even more extraordinary was that TikTok, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, actually said it was leaving Hong Kong operations altogether. As a matter of fact, [ByteDance] walked away from its deposit on some very expensive premises in Hong Kong that it had just taken. So really, it shows you that this has changed the mentality about China and Hong Kong,” Chang added.
User data collected through apps like TikTok are used to build China’s artificial intelligence, noted Chang.
On Monday, the Indian government banned 59 Chinese-developed apps, including TikTok. Chang advised the U.S. government to follow suit.
“India, last week, banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps,” Chang remarked. “Google just removed them from their store, as did Apple. We should be doing the same thing. We should be chirping out these Chinese apps. This is really important because they spy, so they’re taking data. That data will be fed into China’s artificial intelligence systems.”
“Once you stop TikTok, you reduce the amount of data going into China. That’s a really important thing for us,” Chang added.
Sensor Tower, a market intelligence firm specializing in the mobile app industry, identified TikTok as the top non-game app downloaded across both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms in February. TikTok has 30 million users in the U.S., according to social media consulting company Hootsuite. Half of its global users are between the ages of 18 and 24.
TikTok settled a federal lawsuit for $5.7 million in 2019 over accusations over violating children’s privacy laws. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced:
The operators of the video social networking app Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, have agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children. This is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the Commission in a children’s privacy case.
The FTC’s complaint, filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the Commission, alleges that Musical.ly violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites and online services directed to children obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he is considering banning TikTok in the U.S.
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