During a July 6 interview on The Ingraham Angle with Fox News' Laura Ingraham, Pompeo said the U.S. government might ban Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, which is owned by the Beijing-based parent company ByteDance. "With respect to Chinese apps on people's cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too," Pompeo said. "I don't want to get out in front of the president, but it's something we're looking at." Legislators have long been concerned that Chinese-based social media companies could be pressured into sharing American user data with the Chinese government, and TikTok has been accused of censoring information and posts that Chinese authorities don't like. In response, TikTok tells Elite Daily in an emailed statement, "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." TikTok also published an Oct. 24, 2019 statement in response to concerns saying that all U.S. user data is stored in the United States, with backup in Singapore.
Pompeo didn't share a timeline of any proposed ban or if plans to bring about a ban are currently in the works. Elite Daily reached out to the State Department for additional comment on Pompeo's remarks as well as a timeline for a potential ban, but did not receive a response.
On Monday, July 6, TikTok announced it would no longer be available in Hong Kong in light of the passage of the area's National Security Law, which basically gives Beijing the power to crack down any pro-democracy protesters and critics of the Chinese government, according to the BBC. Pompeo's comments also come shortly after India announced it was banning Chinese social media apps that pose a "threat to sovereignty and integrity," according to a June 29 press release from India's Ministry of Electronic & IT.
How TikTok Uses & Stores Your Data
While the company may use your personal information as well as user-related activity on the platform for product testing, targeted advertising, and other customizable features, TikTok emphasizes that it does not sell personal information to third parties without your consent. One instance where a third party may be able to access your information include when the company uses it for business purposes, which TikTok describes in the policy as including "research, payment processing and transaction fulfillment, database maintenance, administering contests and special offers, technology services, deliveries, email deployment, advertising, analytics, measurement, data storage and hosting, disaster recovery, search engine optimization, marketing, and data processing."
Other ways a third party may see your data is when it's shared with a parent company, in the event of a merger or bankruptcy, and when the company responds to "subpoenas, court orders, legal process, law enforcement requests, legal claims, or government inquiries."
What This Means For TikTok Users
This means that you can expect TikTok to have access to any content you post, your comments and reactions on other peoples' TikToks, in addition to personal information like your name, your age, phone number, and email address, as well as payment information if you choose to add it.
The platform will also have access to your other social media accounts if you choose to link them, geolocation-related information from your IP address and phone’s location services, and your browsing and search history on the platform (including if you don’t have an account). Last but not least, the app collects and scans messages that you send, receive, and read through the platform
While it's hard to know how much information the company could hypothetically supply to its parent company ByteDance, you can request that the company delete all the personal information it's collected on you by emailing them at email@example.com or mailing them at:
Attn: TikTok Legal Department
10100 Venice Blvd, Suite 401,
Culver City, CA 90232, USA
In addition, TikTok outlines a few measures you can take for extra privacy, including managing your third-party advertising preferences and cookies and switching off your GPS location.