• Viral video app TikTok says that it is ceasing operations in Hong Kong.
  • "In light of recent events, we've decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong," a TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider.
  • China last week unilaterally passed a new national security law for Hong Kong, a move that experts say further erodes the city's waning freedoms. The new law has already been used to arrest at least ten pro-democracy protesters.
  • TikTok, one of the most downloaded apps in the world, is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Viral video app TikTok says that it is ceasing operations in Hong Kong. A spokesperson for TikTok told Business Insider on Sunday that it decided to stop operations in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory "in light of recent events."

The company said that Hong Kong has also been a small market in terms of the overall number of its users and it was not profitable to maintain operations there.

The news comes as China last week unilaterally passed a new national security law for Hong Kong, a move that experts say further erodes the city's waning freedoms. Those charged with the most severe offenses - like undermining the Chinese government - face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

The new law has already been used to arrest at least ten pro-democracy protesters who gathered on July 1, the anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997.

According to Axios, observers have expressed concern that the new law would force international businesses to hand over user data to the Chinese government.

TikTok, one of the most downloaded phone apps in the world, is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. ByteDance has come under scrutiny in recent months over reports alleging ties to the Chinese Communist Party and allegations of censorship on its platform. Earlier this year, several US government agencies banned TikTok over concerns about cybersecurity.

Last year, the app issued a public apology after being accused of censoring videos that called out Chinese human rights abuses. Former employees have alleged TikTok restricts content dealing with "social and political topics."

TikTok says that despite its Chinese parent company, it is an international company that operates independently from the Chinese government. The company maintains that it has never received requests from the Chinese government to hand over user data, nor would it do so in the future.

India last week banned TikTok citing concerns about national security and privacy of user data.

On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US is considering banning certain social media apps, including TikTok, over privacy concerns.

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