Business Insider Edition

Trump is considering banning TikTok to punish China over Covid-19

Isobel Asher Hamilton , Business Insider US
 Jul 08, 2020, 09:20 PM
President Donald Trump.
  • President Trump said in an interview Tuesday that he was considering banning TikTok, echoing earlier comments from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
  • Trump implied a ban on TikTok would be a way of punishing China for the coronavirus, which originated in the city of Wuhan.
  • Trump's rationale was slightly different from the reason given by Pompeo, which was that the US is worried TikTok could be a national security risk.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

US President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was considering banning the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

His remarks followed similar comments made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told Fox News on Monday that the administration was considering banning TikTok over privacy and national security concerns, fearing Chinese surveillance.

"It's something we're looking at, yes," Trump said when asked about Pompeo's remarks by Gray Television's Greta Van Susteren, according to Bloomberg.

"It's a big business," he said. "Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they've done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful," he said, adding that banning TikTok was "one of many" options he's considering to punish China over the coronavirus.

Trump was not specific about what element of China's response to the coronavirus angered him.

In March he has defended calling coronavirus "the Chinese virus" in response to an accusation from a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman that the US military brought the virus to Wuhan.

Trump's justification differs from that of Pompeo, who told Fox News the issue was whether TikTok was handing private user data over to the Chinese government.

TikTok is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, headquartered in Beijing.

US politicians have voiced concerns over TikTok's Chinese roots for months.

But for the president, the app's popularity may rankle for a different reason. Teen activists on the app in June claimed to have tanked Trump's comeback rally in Oklahoma by signing up for tickets and not attending.

A TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider:

"TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy in the US. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked."

TikTok poached Disney streaming executive Kevin Mayer to be its CEO in May in an attempt to reassure American lawmakers and consumers.

On June 30 TikTok was banned in India along with 58 other Chinese apps following an escalation in political tensions between India and China after a border skirmish on June 15.

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