Trump Administration Considers TikTok Ban Due to Chinese Government Security Concerns
By Allyson Vannatta, Senior Writer
Short-form video app TikTok might not be available in the U.S. for much longer as the Trump Administration considers a ban on the Chinese social media app due to security concerns.
In an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned that people who use the app risk having their “Private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Pompeo added, “I don’t want to get out in front of [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at.”
This is not the first Chinese media product that could be banned by the U.S. government. Variety reports that the U.S. has already banned Chinese telecom equipment vendors ZTE and Huawei.
TikTok responded to the security concerns in a statement saying the company has “Never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.
“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.,” the statement continued. “We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users.”
According to Variety, TikTok’s CEO/COO is ex-Disney exec Kevin Mayer, who came on board June 1. However, the company is owned by Bytedance, which is a Beijing-based internet company.
TikTok has faced media scrutiny a few other times because of safety concerns for the app’s users, who are mainly minors.
The most acute issue with this vulnerability is Apple’s universal clipboard functionality, which means that anything I copy on my Mac or iPad can be read by my iPhone, and vice versa. So, if TikTok is active on your phone while you work, the app can basically read anything and everything you copy on another device: Passwords, work documents, sensitive emails, financial information. Anything.
Earlier in the year, when TikTok was first exposed, the security researchers acknowledged that there was no way to tell what the app might be doing with user data, and its abuse was lost in the mix of many others. Now it’s feeling different. iOS users can relax, knowing that Apple’s latest safeguard will force TikTok to make the change, which in itself shows how critical a fix this has been. For Android users, though, there is no word yet as to whether this is an issue for them as well.
Apple says they havefixed this issue in the new version of the iOS. A new clipboard warning is being displayed in the beta version of iOS 14 which is now being used by developers. The warning is flashed for TikTok as well.
Movieguide® previously reported that the app made the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s annual Dirty Dozen list because their “lack of moderation and safety controls had created a space for sexual grooming by abusers and sex traffickers.”
In response, TikTok created Digital Wellbeing with three categories for parents to monitor: screen time management, direct messages and restricted mode.
Along with the Digital Wellbeing feature, TikTok added Family Pairing, which allows parents to link their account to their child’s so they can monitor what they see.
Parents are also able to block content from their children and set a screen time limit on how long they can spend on the app in one day.
Jeff Collins, TikTok’s senior director of trust and safety, said, “We are committed to giving parents insight into, and control over, how their teens use TikTok and helping facilitate important conversations within families about the responsible navigation of digital platforms.”
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