In recent times, US and Australia have been very vocal about the need to ban Chinese social media apps, indicating a hardening of stance against China by an increasing number of countries.
In the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has confirmed that the US government is looking at banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps in the country. TikTok is owned by Chinese tech company Bytedance and has repeatedly been criticized by politicians in the US of being a national security threat, alleging that the app sends data back to the Chinese government. TikTok has, on its part, said that its servers for the app are based outside China and not governed by Chinese law for any data sharing.
In China, the National Intelligence Law of 2017 governs all tech companies that are based in China or are under Chinese ownership. The law mandates all businesses to share any and all information that the Chinese Government may ask for.
In Australia also, there are calls for the government to ban TikTok and other Chinese social media apps. A Federal MP has revealed plans to put TikTok before the Foreign Interference through Social Media senate inquiry over fears that the app developers are sharing user data with the Chinese government. The MP also said this is an effort by the Chinese Communist Party to collect data of users in other countries.
Meanwhile, Tiktok is likely to exit Hong Kong within the next few days. The company says they are pausing review of requests made by the Hong Kong government for user data as a reaction to the new national security laws that China has imposed in Hong Kong. “In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a TikTok spokesman said.
TikTok is incredibly popular around the world. TikTok was downloaded 39 million times on Android phones and 14 million times on iPhones, in just the month of June. The app has clocked more than 2 billion downloads globally in just the first half of this year on Android and iOS.