The United States government is considering banning TikTok as it views the popular social media app as a security threat, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance and has an estimated 65-80 million active monthly users in America.
The app allows users to share videos up to 60 seconds long with filters, music, and edits. The platform has exploded in the last year with over 175 million downloads in the U.S. and over 1 billion users worldwide.
Since the fall of 2019, U.S. lawmakers have been working on an investigation of TikTok’s relationship with its parent company and the Chinese government to determine if the reported ties pose as a counterintelligence threat in America.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the Trump administration is “certainly looking” at banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
A TikTok spokesperson told ABC News the company is “led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users,” in response to Pompeo’s statement.
Pompeo accused the app of sharing its users’ data with the Chinese government. When asked if he would recommend that people download the app, he responded, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
ABC News reports the TikTok spokesperson denied the accusation. “We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”
Owner of the app, ByteDance, is a Chinese technology firm that has also started apps for travel search and real estate purposes. The company is considered one of the world’s most valuable start-ups, according to ABC News.
In an attempt to distance the app from the company, TikTok stated on its website that it “does business through subsidiaries of ByteDance Ltd., which is backed by global institutional investors.”
The app also announced on Monday, July 6, that it would remove the app from Hong Kong due to the Chinese government’s new national security law, which gives Bejing tighter control of the territory. The new law is intended to be semi-autonomous, including requiring tech companies to hand over data if requested.
Pompeo did not provide specific evidence that the Chinese government has requested users’ information from TikTok.
Last week, India banned the app amid growing tensions with China, casting TikTok and nearly 60 other Chinese-owned apps as security concerns that the Chinese government could exploit.