The massively popular Chinese app known as TikTok is coming under increased scrutiny in India, Australia, and elsewhere around the world as tech experts warn that the Chinese Communist Party could be using the app to collect information illegally from those who download it.
A new wave of suspicion against the app was generated this week after a Reddit user (who has reversed engineered the program) warned that the video site is little more than “a data collection service that is thinly-veiled as a social network.”
“If there is an API (Application Programming Interface) to get information on you, your contacts, or your device … well, they’re using it,” he warned in the post.
Indian authorities, increasingly wary of their geopolitical neighbors, banned a host of Chinese apps this month including TikTok. The Indian government said the apps were a danger to the “sovereignty and integrity of India.”
India’s move was championed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said this week that the ban would “boost India’s sovereignty and will also boost India’s integrity and national security, as the Indian government cell itself has stated.”
In an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on Monday, Pompeo confirmed that the U.S. is looking into taking a similar stance against Beijing’s viral export.
“We are taking this very seriously and we are certainly looking at it. We have worked on this very issue for a long time, whether it’s the problem of having Huawei technology in your infrastructure — we’ve gone all over the world and we are making real progress getting that out — we had declared ZTE a danger to American national security,” said Pompeo.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” he continued, noting that he didn’t want to say too much and scoop the president on any forthcoming actions the U.S. might take. “But, it is something we are looking at.”
Pompeo concluded by warning Americans that they should be careful about using TikTok, as it could put their personal information in danger of falling “into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Granted, we weren’t rushing to put TikTok on our phones in any case, but this is all we need to hear to stay far, far away from this app. The Chinese are looking for any advantage they can get in the race for tech dominance; we aren’t going to help them get there.