TikTok Goes Political as It Pulls App From Hong Kong

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Chinese-owned TikTok is joining other big-name social media platforms in voting with its feet over Beijing's controversial new National Security Law and its impact on privacy.

The company on Tuesday announced plans to pull out of Hong Kong within days as global tech giants grapple with how to operate under the sweeping new security rules imposed by China's parliament on the city.

Major U.S. internet companies including Facebook (FB) - Get Report, Alphabet-owned Google (GOOGL) - Get Report, Twitter (TWTR) - Get Report, Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Report and even Zoom Video (ZM) - Get Report have all announced they have suspended the processing of requests for user data from the Hong Kong authorities while they study the new law, according to Reuters.

While the U.S. companies’ social media platforms are generally banned in mainland China by the government’s “great firewall,” most have operated freely in the city-state of Hong Kong, which until recently has run relatively independently from Beijing. 

That changed last week with the implementation of the National Security Law, which gives the Chinese government broad ability to impose mainland Chinese law on the former British colony, which returned to Chinese rule 23 years ago.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday Washington was considering banning TikTok in the United States. Asked if Americans should download it, he told Fox News: “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

TikTok responded with a statement noting it is "...led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product and public policy in the U.S.”

TikTok's parent, ByteDance, runs a separate, similar type of platform inside China, but TikTok itself is a global platform used every else in the world. Its exit means Hong Kong users, like those in mainland China, will be cut off from the global version.