The Trump administration is pushing to purge “untrusted” Chinese apps including Tiktok and Wechat from US app stores, amid increasing tensions across the Pacific.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo yesterday signalled that the US may soon order Apple and Google to remove certain Chinese apps over national security concerns.
Pompeo said apps linked to the Chinese government “threaten our privacy, proliferate viruses, and spread propaganda and disinformation”.
Bytedance-owned Tiktok and other Chinese apps have been accused by US officials of harvesting user data and sharing it with Beijing for state spying. Tiktok denies the claims.
Pompeo said yesterday: “With parent companies based in China, apps like Tiktok, Wechat and others are significant threats to personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for Chinese Communist Party [CCP] content censorship.”
“The United States calls on our allies and partners in government and industry around the world to join the growing tide to secure our data from the CCP’s surveillance state and other malign entities. Building a ‘clean fortress’ around our citizens’ data will ensure all of our nations’ security.”
Tiktok faces a deadline of 15 September to either sell its US operations to Microsoft or face an outright ban.
Talks with Microsoft were muddied this week after President Donald Trump said the US government should get a cut from any sale of Tiktok to an American firm.
Trump almost ground negotiations to a halt after he demanded a “substantial portion” of the purchase price in a phone call with Microsoft’s chief executive.
It comes as Google today said it has deleted more than 2,500 Youtube channels tied to China, as the search engine giant seeks to weed out misinformation on its video platform.
Google, which owns Youtube, said the channels were removed “as part of our ongoing investigation into coordinated influence operations linked to China.”
The internet giant did not name the specific channels, but said in a company bulletin that a small subset were political.