Trump admin will 'deny' China access to US private data via apps

Pompeo also praised Google, Twitter and Facebook for 'refusing to surrender' user data to the Hong Kong government.

    Speaking two days after he said Washington was 'certainly looking at' banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the US evaluation was not focused on a particular company but that it was a matter of national security [File: Lam Yik/Bloomberg]
    Speaking two days after he said Washington was 'certainly looking at' banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the US evaluation was not focused on a particular company but that it was a matter of national security [File: Lam Yik/Bloomberg]

    The Trump administration will take steps to ensure the Chinese government does not gain access to the private information of United States citizens through telecommunications and social media, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday.

    Pompeo made the comment after being asked if the US is planning to ban Chinese-owned app TikTok.

    The secretary of state also praised US technology giants Google, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc for "refusing to surrender" user data to the Hong Kong government and urged other companies to follow suit, after China's establishment of a sweeping new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

    Speaking two days after he said Washington was "certainly looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, Pompeo said the US evaluation was not focused on a particular company but that it was a matter of national security.

    "The comments that I made about a particular company earlier this week fall in the context of us evaluating the threat from the Chinese Communist Party," Pompeo said.

    He added that Washington is working to ensure that Beijing does not gain access to any private data or health records of Americans.

    "So, what you'll see the administration do is take actions that preserve and protect that information and deny the Chinese Communist Party access to private information that belongs to Americans," he said.

    US legislators have raised national security concerns about TikTok's handling of user data, saying they were worried about Chinese laws requiring domestic companies "to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party".

    On Monday, Tiktok told Reuters News Agency it has never provided user data to China. The app, which is not available in China, has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience.

    Pompeo's remarks also come amid increasing US-China tensions over the handling of the coronavirus outbreak, China's actions in the former British colony of Hong Kong and a nearly two-year trade dispute between the US and China.

    Pompeo reiterated the need for allies and the international community to help shape the global telecoms infrastructure free of the Chinese government's influence.

    "The infrastructure of this next hundred years must be a communications infrastructure that is based on a Western ideal," he said.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency