After India undertook a digital surgical strike upon China and its ambitions of creating a digital silk route by banning 59 Chinese apps including the video platform/espionage app TikTok, other allies of India are looking to emulate the same feat. It is now being reported that the United States of America and the down under country of Australia will also ban the controversial app owned by the Chinese tech-giant ByteDance group.
The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been China’s Achilles heel ever since he took the position two years back, has confirmed that the US administration is looking at banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps in the country.
“I don’t want to get out in front of the President [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at,” said Pompeo while talking to a news channel.
The US has been increasingly wary of the Chinese app and the Chinese companies as the ties to the United Front and the Communist Party of China continue to surface up.
Pompeo’s statement further comes at a time when the Trump administration is in the middle of revoking Hong Kong’s special trade status after Beijing passed the highly controversial National Security Law, which is aimed at culling the autonomy and freedom of Hong Kongers.
The two-year trade war with China and Beijing’s hesitation in honoring the first phase of the trade deal has further pushed Washington to take this step. India’s decision to ban TikTok has merely acted as a catalyst.
Tik Tok is a stooge of CCP
The concern that ByteDance and its CEO Zhang Yiming are thick as thieves with the CCP stems from the fact that a 2017 Chinese intelligence law requires companies like ByteDance to cooperate with the Chinese government when it comes to spying or matters of national security.
“All organizations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work, and guard the secrecy of national intelligence work they are aware of.” the Article 6 of China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law states.
If the USA indeed bans TikTok, then it will be the second-biggest Chinese casualty after the Trump administration went after Huawei. Trump has single-handedly ejected Huawei from the USA and European nations like the United Kingdom.
The US had initiated an inquiry last year
According to a report by Reuters, last year in November, the US government had launched a national security review of the Chinese-owned video platform TikTok.
The US officials have been suspicious of the video-sharing platform’s collection of user data, and like Huawei, the company is accused of sharing user data with the Chinese government.
The company ByteDance said U.S. user data was stored in the United States, but the senators noted that ByteDance is governed by Chinese laws.
After Trade war with Australia—Kangaroos set to land the sucker punch
According to a report in the Herald Sun, a federal MP of Australia has revealed plans to put TikTok before the Foreign Interference through Social Media senate inquiry over fears that the app developers are sharing user data with the Chinese government.
“It might be dressed differently but it’s the same beast,” the MP told anonymously to the newspaper.
The popular video app is used by more than 1.6 million Australians and after India and the USA, it could be another major jolt out of the blue for the Chinese company.
The unnamed MP also says this is an effort by the CCP to collect data of users in other countries. The Australian Defence Forces are already wary of the espionage capacities of TikTok and it had banned the app on any defense-issued device, earlier this year.
Major loss of user-base and revenue
According to San Francisco-based market intelligence firm SensorTower, Inc. TikTok had surpassed 2 billion downloads globally in April. The United States now stands in the top three countries in terms of downloads, where it has picked up 165 million installs, or 8.2 percent of the total. TikTok revenue streams from the US accounts for 42% of total revenue.
Apart from this, TikTok has become the number one app in terms of downloads on the Apple Store, beating all the other competitors handsomely. Consequently, if banned in both countries, TikTok might lose a huge stream of revenue.
Atonement measures or a facade?
The social media platform is trying to take a stand and is saying it will exit Hong Kong within the next few days after China passed the National Security Bill. However, the atonement from TikTok comes little too late.
The global hegemony China wanted to create in the digital sphere is now being challenged as countries are beginning to stand up to it. India has shown the way and the rest are taking a cue from it.