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What's The Holdup? Ban China's TikTok App

Ban TikTok
Our friend Rachel Bovard recently gave us a heads up that, while American policymakers are aware of the security issues related to Chinese Communist social media apps, such as TikTok, the United States is dithering while India has already acted to ban dozens of Chinese mobile apps over concerns the apps "are beholden to the [Chinese Communist Party] under Chinese law" and "extensions of the Chinese state."

Ms. Bovard reports the app presents very real security concerns that have drawn the scrutiny of U.S. lawmakers and national security staffers.

Chief among the concerns with the China-based app is that the data it collects on its user base—which, in the United States, is largely between the ages of 16 and 24—goes straight back to Beijing and the Chinese government.

In short, India is onto something—and the U.S. should take heed, wrote Ms. Bovard.

The Indian government has blocked TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps, including WeChat, Baidu Translate, Mi Video Call, Cam Scanner, Weibo and ES File Explorer. However, our friends at NewsMax report there seems to be no urgency in the U.S. government about acting on this known threat.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that the United States is "certainly looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, and suggested it shared information with the Chinese government.

Pompeo said Americans should be cautious in using the short-form video app owned by China-based ByteDance.

"Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party," Pompeo remarked when asked if he would recommend people to download TikTok.

“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right, too,” he told Laura Ingraham, citing the U.S. government’s ban on Chinese telecom equipment vendors ZTE and Huawei. “I don’t want to get out in front of [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at.”

The entertainment industry’s premier publication Variety reported the White House is within its legal rights to ban specific apps “in order to protect the citizens of the United States and their data,” said Dan Fleyshman, founder of social-media agency Elevator.Studio. If “the intense rumors about parent company ByteDance are verified, in regards to Americans data being compromised, just like India recently banned specific apps, you will see Trump’s administration take a similar action as well.”

When it banned TikTok, and some 58 other Communist Chinese apps, the Indian government issued a statement noted “raging concerns” with regards to data security and protecting the privacy of its citizens. “The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India.”

“The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India, which ultimately impinges on the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” the statement continued.

“On the basis of these and upon receiving of recent credible inputs that such Apps pose threat to sovereignty and integrity of India, the Government of India has decided to disallow the usage of certain Apps, used in both mobile and non-mobile Internet enabled devices,” the statement said according to Variety's Naman Ramachandran.

Rachel Bovard’s reporting suggests that TikTok presents the same challenges to United States sovereignty and national security, and that it is very likely placing data on American citizens in the hands of an American geopolitical adversary—the Chinese Communist Party—which that adversary could use for information, leverage, blackmail, identity theft or other nefarious purpose.

So why is it taking so long for the administration to act?

After all, the growing skepticism of TikTok reaches across partisan lines. Last October, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in sending a letter to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence asking for an investigation into TikTok as "a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore."

TikTok may not yet rise to the level of "assisting in espionage," concluded Ms. Bovard, but there is ample evidence that it could—and an obvious willingness and ability by the Chinese government to encourage it. India has gotten wise to TikTok, it is time the U.S. followed suit.

We urge CHQ readers and friends to call the White House (202-456-1111) to demand that the President use his executive authority to ban TikTok and the 58 other Chinese apps, including WeChat, Baidu Translate, Mi Video Call, Cam Scanner, Weibo and ES File Explorer, identified by the Indian government as threats to its national security and sovereignty. There’s no reason for the United States to dither in the face of another national security threat from Red China.

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Think twice

I reluctantly jumped on TikTok about 6 months ago. While there is a concern over the app being Chinese, there are a LOT of young Americans on there and a remarkable number of them that claim to be former Democrats, Bernie Boys & Girls and otherwise left-wing nuts...that have seen the right (sorry for the play on Chinese accent).

As a died in the wool Republican and Constitutional Conservative...I would think twice about a campaign to shut this resource down. It's targeting a demo that we desperately need to reach and have precious few inroads to.