Trump administration likely to take action on TikTok, WeChat risks ‘in weeks’, official says
- A number of Trump administration officials are looking at national security risks of social media applications including TikTok and WeChat
- ‘I would say that we’re looking at weeks, not months [in terms of action],’ White House chief of staff Mark Meadows says
“There are a number of … administration officials who are looking at the national security risk as it relates to TikTok, WeChat and other apps that have the potential for national security exposure, specifically as it relates to the gathering of information on American citizens by a foreign adversary,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters en route to Washington from Georgia.
“I don’t know that there’s any self-imposed deadline in terms of action, but I would say that we’re looking at weeks, not months,” he added.
TikTok defended its security practices in a statement, saying: “We are fully committed to protecting our users’ privacy and security.
“TikTok has an American CEO, a chief information security officer with decades of US military and law enforcement experience, and a growing US team that works diligently to develop a best-in-class security infrastructure. TikTok US user data is stored in Virginia and Singapore, with strict controls on employee access. These are the facts,” the statement said.
WeChat owner Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was “certainly looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok, but offered no further details.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported the administration was weighing action against Chinese social media services like TikTok under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president broad powers to penalise companies in response to extraordinary threats, citing people familiar with the matter.
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But the administration was already looking into the company, after lawmakers called for a probe over concerns it could be censoring politically sensitive content and failing to safely store personal data.
Meadows offered little detail about the mechanisms under consideration to respond to any threats posed by TikTok, but noted that the CFIUS review was perhaps on a parallel tract.