Is the Clock Ticking for U.S. TikTok Users?

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Is the clock ticking for American users of the universally popular TikTok app?

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, is once again making headlines following less-than-friendly statements from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo told Fox News that the U.S. is “looking at” banning the popular platform and other Chinese apps in the U.S.

“We are taking this very seriously. We are certainly looking at it,” Pompeo told Fox.

The move comes amid a rise of tension between the U.S. and China as well as China’s technology firms. Huawei has been a particular focus point in recent years as the U.S. maintains that Huawei technology could be used for espionage and user data could be compromised. Will TikTok face similar treatment?

“With respect to Chinese apps on peoples’ cellphones, the United States will get this one right too,” Pompeo said.

In response, a TikTok spokesperson told TheStreet,"TikTok 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. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked." 

India has already banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese applications after Indian soldiers were killed in a border dispute.

Pompeo’s statement also followed a move by TikTok to cease operation in Hong Kong amid unrest following the controversial new security law.

TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times globally since operations began in 2017.

Though its parent company is based in Beijing, its largest office operates out of Los Angeles and former Disney streaming executive Keith Mayer serves as chief executive of TikTok.

The company has seen a rush of new users as many seek online entertainment amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated with a statement from TikTok. 

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