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TikTok Considers Changes as U.S. Concerns Over Chinese Ties

Rob Sterling



Popular video app Tiktok mulls restructuring to hold off national security concerns from the U.S. government over its ties to China.

Amid U.S. government pressure, the popular app TikTok is mulling corporate changes. TikTok is a popular video-sharing app that lets users create and share short videos. Around 165 million people have owned the app. Yet, TikTok’s ties to China have earned distrust from U.S. politicians. Lawmakers have hit China for cracking down on Hong Kong. Beijing passed a National Security Law for the city last week.

Distancing TikTok from China 

CNN reports that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance wants to leave China. The company plans to build a “headquarters outside China.” It also aims to form a “new management board.” According to the Wall Street Journal, ByteDance hopes to distance itself from China to keep the U.S.’s trust. A TikTok spokesperson has confirmed these plans in a statement to CNN Business.

He said that ByteDance is still “fully committed to protecting our users’ privacy and security.” The company also hopes to keep building a creative platform for users to express themselves on video. Finally, he said that these plans would serve the best interests of its various stakeholders.

“TikTok is a threat to national security”

U.S. politicians are afraid that TikTok may threaten national security. They claim that Beijing could use it to track its American users. Bloomberg News reports that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wanted to ban the app. President Donald Trump also confirmed it. He has said the ban was just one way of hitting China for the coronavirus.

In 2019, the U.S. government reviewed ByteDance for national security threats. They studied its $1.7 billion deal to buy, a social media app made in the U.S. Skeptics also said ByteDance remains tied to China because it is based there.

TikTok Responds to Criticism

On the other hand, TikTok replied that they are independent of China. They have hired an American CEO recently. They also said that they would never share user data with China even if Beijing asked them. TikTok has said that it does store user data on its servers. Its privacy policy states that the app gathers user data, like other social media apps. However, they are based in the U.S. and are not subject to Chinese law.

In a CNN report, security expert James Lewis doesn’t think TikTok’s data threatens national security. Though it was fine to suspect the Chinese, Lewis was unsure that “TikTok is a good intelligence tool for them.”

Rob is Tekrati's senior editor. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist and author. Rob lives in NYC and covers the intersection of money, politics and finance.

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