Now, White House advisor Peter Navarro hints that a TikTok shutdown in the country may actually happen. According to Navarro, the Trump Administration is fully prepared to take “strong action” against the Chinese-owned video-sharing app.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to Fox News about the potential ban. He warns that Americans should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
“We are taking this very seriously and we are certainly looking at it. We have worked on this very issue for a long time,” he says. “With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right, too.”
Now, White House advisor Navarro is revealing even more information regarding the potential TikTok shutdown. In an interview with Fox News, he claims that both TikTok and WeChat help China engage in “information warfare” against the United States. He also strongly hints that a TikTok shutdown may actually happen in the future.
Some theorize that the Trump Administration may stop the ban if the Chinese-owned platform is sold to an American buyer. However, Navarro says that won’t stop the ban from happening.
“If TikTok separates as an American company, that doesn’t help us,” he says. “Because it’s going to be worse. We’re going to have to give China billions of dollars for the privilege of having TikTok operate on U.S. soil.”
TikTok owner ByteDance recently tried to forge ties with the U.S. when it hired ex-Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its new chief executive. However, Navarro claims that this attempt simply puts an “American puppet” at the company’s helm.
In the interview, Navarro also critiques Amazon. Last week, the company told employees to delete TikTok over security concerns. However, the company quickly retracted its statement and said the order was an “error.”
“It [the Amazon incident] shows the power of the Chinese Communist Party on corporate America,” Navarro says.
The United States’ investigation on TikTok comes after a recent update to iOS 14 which showed that TikTok was copying mobile clipboard information. This action allowed TikTok and other apps to access information every few keystrokes. Since the discovery, a spokesperson says the feature was intended to prevent spam. Now, TikTok says it will stop accessing clipboard content altogether.
TikTok has over 65 million active users in the United States alone. As well, it consistently ranks as one of the most downloaded apps on Apple‘s App Store. According to analytics company Sensor Tower, TikTok was downloaded 315 million times in the first three months of 2020. That is more quarterly downloads than any other app in history.
Despite its success, U.S. government officials have expressed concerns in the past over the amount of data that TikTok collects. This is all particularly concerning for the U.S. government since TikTok is a Chinese company. In 2019, the U.S. military banned its personnel from using the app on government-issued phones and devices.
Amid the government’s investigation, a TikTok spokesperson recently released a statement stating that the app does not provide users’ info to the Chinese government.
“TikTok is led by an American CEO,” the spokesperson says. “With hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US. 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.”
Do you think the United States should ban TikTok? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.