TikTok halts operations in Hong Kong, as US reportedly mulls over banning the app

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The past two weeks have been less than ideal for TikTok, with the app being banned in India alongside 58 other Chinese apps.

Now a new security law has forced the company to pull its app from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store in that region, with other big tech firms also raising concerns over the law and what it means for user data.

For those unfamiliar with the law, which came into effect on 30th June, it allows officials in Mainland China to prosecute those in Hong Kong with greater authority, as well as infringe upon certain freedom of speech and privacy provisions.

This could potentially extend to businesses operating in Hong Kong too, with the Chinese government capable of gaining access to user data upon request in order to comply with the censorship aspects of the new law.

“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” an unnamed spokesperson told Axios earlier this week.

The company tells the publication that Hong Kong does not represent a large market for it, with a reported 150 000 users in September of last year. That said, the move will likely do little to dispel notions of TikTok’s ties to its parent company ByteDance, which resides in China.

To that end, it looks like other regions could be doing the same as India in banning several Chinese apps from use in its country, with the United States’ Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, telling Fox News that their government is “certainly looking at” banning the app.

“I don’t want to get out in front of the President, but it’s something we’re looking at,” he added in a press briefing.

As such, it looks like the coming weeks and months will prove testing for TikTok, especially as tensions between the US and China show no signs of changing.

Either way, it may require TikTok to make some radical decisions to the way it operates and help further distance itself from ByteDance and the implications of its Chinese origins.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.