President Trump said Wednesday that the U.S. is considering banning the social media app TikTok amid fears that it could be used by China to spy on Americans.
‘We’re looking at TikTok, we’re thinking about making a decision,’ he told reporters in the South Lawn before departing the White House for a day trip to Texas.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who stood alongside Trump and addressed reporters, said TikTok is being looked at by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews deals by foreign acquirers for potential national security risks.
President Trump (center) told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. is ‘looking at’ banning TikTok, a Chinese social media app. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (left) said the app is under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States
TikTok faces regulatory challenges across the globe, and a potential ban by the U.S. government over suspicions Beijing could force its Chinese owner to turn over user data. China’s President Xi Jinping is photographed in May
The president made the comments about TikTok as he departed the White House Wednesday for a day trip to Texas. Mnuchin informed reporters he would have a recommendation for the president this week on how to handle the Chinese-based app
Mnuchin said he’d make a recommendation to Trump this week.
The comments come after Joe Biden’s presidential campaign banned staffers from using the Chinese video sharing app, citing security and privacy concerns.
In a memo on Monday, Biden’s general counsel, Dana Remus, ordered staff members to delete TikTok from both their personal and work phones, and to ‘refrain from downloading and using TikTok,’ according to Bloomberg.
The memo also bans staff from trading individual stocks without approval from the campaign’s general counsel, an unusual step for a presidential campaign.
TikTok faces regulatory challenges across the globe, and a potential ban by the U.S. government over suspicions Beijing could force its Chinese owner to turn over user data.
The Senate is currently slated to vote on a bill that would ban the use of TikTok on all government-issued devices.
The ‘No TikTok on Government Devices Act’ sponsored by Senator Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, was passed unanimously by the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has banned staffers from using the Chinese video sharing app TikTok, citing security and privacy concerns
Companies including Wells Fargo, and government agencies including the Transportation Security Administration, have already instructed their employees to delete TikTok from their work phones.
TikTok’s wide popularity among American teens has brought scrutiny from U.S. regulators and lawmakers who fear their personal information could fall into the hands of government officials in Beijing.
TikTok, which was originally used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos, said last year about 60 percent of its 26.5 million monthly active U.S. users are aged 16 to 24.
Under a Chinese law introduced in 2017, companies have an obligation to support and cooperate in the country’s national intelligence work.
TikTok’s wide popularity among American teens has brought scrutiny from U.S. regulators and lawmakers who fear their personal information could fall into the hands of government officials in Beijing
Last week, the House of Representatives voted to bar federal employees from downloading the app on government-issued devices as part of a $741 billion defense policy bill.
Lawmakers voted 336-71 to pass the proposal, offered by Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican.
With passage in the Democrat-controlled House and approval by the Republican-led Senate Committee, the prohibition could soon become law in the United States.
Top officials in the Trump administration have also said they were considering a broader ban on TikTok and other Chinese-linked apps, and that action may be imminent.
For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently said Americans should be cautious in using the app.
TikTok spokeswoman Jamie Favazza said the company’s growing U.S. team has no higher priority than promoting a safe app experience that protects users’ privacy.
‘Millions of American families use TikTok for entertainment and creative expression, which we recognize is not what federal government devices are for,’ she said.
Later Wednesday in Washington, the heads of U.S.-based tech companies will participate in a House hearing via Zoom. Participants will include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Google’s Sundar Pichai.