The federal government is weighing a ban on TikTok in the U.S. because of concerns surrounding Chinese surveillance, Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo said on Monday. "There is no change to our policies right now with regard to TikTok", Amazon emailed reporters just before 5 p.m.
ByteDance has previously taken pains to distance TikTok from its Chinese ownership, pointing out that its CEO is American.
An internal email sent earlier on Friday (10 July) was quickly rescinded, after it advised employees to delete the app over "privacy" concerns. A TikTok spokesperson said that the e-commerce giant "did not tell the social media company about its request prior to sending out the email to employees".
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"We welcome a dialogue so we can address any issues they may have and enable their team to continue participating in our community", a TikTok spokesperson was quoted as saying. And it is stopping operations in Hong Kong because of a new Chinese national security law that led Facebook, Google and Twitter to also stop providing user data to Hong Kong authorities.
ByteDance acquired Musical.ly - the American company that has since merged with TikTok - in 2017, and last November, the United States government opened a national security review of that deal.
TikTok has since removed the feature but it has increased the security concerns surrounding the video sharing app.
Part of Amazon's motivation with the ban, now apparently reversed, may also have been political, Aaronson said, since Amazon "doesn't want to alienate the Trump administration". Last year, Amazon sued the US government, saying that Trump's "personal vendetta" against Amazon, Bezos and the Post, led it to lose a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon to rival Microsoft.
"The latest controversy over banning the app in the USA could be more of a political power play than concerns over advertising and personal privacy", said Jin Kim, founder and CEO of Creative Digital Agency, a company in California's San Francisco Bay Area.
TikTok is one of the fastest growing digital platforms in history but has come under heavy scrutiny outside China, with India banning TikTok and other Chinese apps earlier this year. India cited privacy concerns that threatened India's sovereignty and security for the ban.