To retaliate against China’s handling of Covid, Trump likely to ban TikTok in the US

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President Donald Trump said his administration is considering banning the short video app TikTok in the United States as one possible way to retaliate against China over its handling of the coronavirus.Trump’s commentscame one day after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said officials were looking at barring the app, whose parent company is China’s ByteDance Ltd.It is something were looking at, yes, said Trump, when asked in an interview with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren about Pompeo’s remarks. It is a big business. Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they have done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful.Trump did not offer any specifics about a potential decision. He said that banning TikTok is one of many ways he is looking to hit back at the Beijing government over the coronavirus, which has infected nearly 3 million people in the US and killed more than 130,000.In a separate but related development, the short-video app is the subject of an inquiry by the US Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department over its data practices, according to a children’s privacy advocate who says he was interviewed by the agencies. Several privacy groups alleged in May that the app, which is popular with teens, was collecting information about children under 13 without parental permission, in violation of both US privacy law and an earlier FTC settlement.Trump poll numbersThe president has seen his poll numbers plummet as his own response to the pandemic has come under widespread criticism, including for his refusal to unequivocally urge Americans to wear masks.TikTok played up its U.S. ties and said it doesnt feed user data to China, pushing back against comments by Pompeo, who said the government was weighing a ban in part over concerns about its ownership.TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the US, a company spokesperson said. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.TikTok hired former Walt Disney Coexecutive Kevin Mayer as chief executive officer last month. He also serves as chief operating officer of ByteDance.Calling attention to India’s recent move to ban almost 60 Chinese apps, including TikTok, Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked Pompeo whether the Trump administration would also consider banning the app in the US We are certainly looking at it, Pompeo responded.Stealing private informationHe then recommended Americans not download the app unless they want to see their private information fall in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.Pompeo joins other US government officials, including Senators Marco Rubio and Chuck Schumer, who have called for investigations of TikTok over possible threats to national security. The US government has also launched a national security review of ByteDances acquisition of Musical.ly, a start-up that later merged with TikTok.Young people organising through Tiktok were cited as one reason many people signed up to attend Trump’s first post-shutdown campaign rally last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but then did not show up. The Trump campaign denied the online organising effort contributed to lower-than-expected attendance.

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