According to Republican Mike Pompeo, who currently serves as Secretary of State under the Trump administration, the U.S. is "looking at" the possibility of banning TikTok and other apps whose parent company is based in China.
The comments came during an interview this week with Fox News, of course, and were followed quickly by a statement from a TikTok rep.
Asked about the consideration of a ban on Chinese social media apps—"especially TikTok"—during the interview, Pompeo claimed this is a possible response to the current U.S. government's characterization of TikTok as a "mass surveillance and propaganda" facilitator.
"We're certainly looking at it," he said. "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 declared ZTE a danger to American national security. With respect to Chinese apps on peoples' cell phones, the United States will get this one right too."
Pompeo, who notably spent a good chunk of the interview following the Trumpian playbook of obsessively discussing former POTUS Barack Obama, also said TikTok should only be downloaded if one wants private information "in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."
As CNBC points out, TikTok is owned by the Beijing-based tech company ByteDance. Furthermore, Pompeo's comments come amid well-documented expressions of concern regarding China's newly introduced national security law.
In a statement shared Tuesday, a TikTok rep reminded users that the app is "led by an American CEO" and counts "hundreds" of employees here in the U.S.
"We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users," the rep said. "We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked." As reported Monday, TikTok is also exiting the Hong Kong market.
The social media app has also previously made clear that it stores "all TikTok U.S. user data" within the U.S., with backup redundancy handled in Singapore. Data centers, meanwhile, are all located "entirely outside of" China.