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US flags are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustration picture. (Reuters)
US flags are seen near a TikTok logo in this illustration picture. (Reuters)

TikTok ban: US government to take a call soon

  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said the decision is expected in weeks and not months
  • The US government is analysing the security risks posed by TikTok and other Chinese apps

Following a ban on 59 Chinese apps, including the popular TikTok, by the Indian government, the US government has said it will take a decision on the issue in the coming weeks.

"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 said. Although there is no self-imposed deadline for action, he said, "but I think we are looking at weeks, not months."

The US has indicated that it may take a decision on banning Chinese mobile applications, including TikTok, within weeks after a campaign to bar them gained momentum in the country following India's decision.

India last month banned 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok and UC Browser, saying they were prejudicial to the sovereignty, integrity and security of the country.

TikTok has 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 U.S. military and law enforcement experience, and a growing U.S. team that works diligently to develop a best-in-class security infrastructure. TikTok U.S. user data is stored in Virginia and Singapore, with strict controls on employee access. These are the facts," the statement said.

The move to ban TikTok in the US has suddenly gained momentum after India's decision related to the matter. TikTok has over 40 million American users.

Meadows said 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.

Early this month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had said the US may ban TikTok.

The US has banned Huawei from their 5G networks over concerns of security and Washington has been pressuring other countries to restrict the operations of the Chinese telecom firm. The UK on Tuesday banned Huawei from its 5G telecom network, reversing an earlier decision to allow the Chinese tech giant a limited role in building the country's super-fast wireless infrastructure.

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