Pompeo: Trump taking action on Chinese software firms ‘in coming days’

Greg Nash

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that President Trump would soon take action against Chinese software companies that the administration believes present a national security risk for Americans.

“President Trump has said, ‘enough,’ and we’re going to fix it,” Pompeo said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” “And so he will take action in the coming days with respect to a broad array of national security risks that are presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party.”

The comments come on the heels of Trump’s announcement on Friday that he was prepared to sign an executive order to ban TikTok, a Chinese-owned short-form video app, from operating in the U.S. 

Pompeo on Sunday asserted that Chinese-owned software companies doing business in America were “feeding data directly” to the government in Beijing and that the practices amounted to “true national security issues.” He specifically named TikTok and WeChat, a Chinese-owned messaging and social media app.

“They are true privacy issues for the American people. And for a long time, a long time, the United States just said, well, goodness, if we’re having fun with it, or if a company can make money off of it, we’re going to permit that to happen,” Pompeo added, noting that officials have been deliberating on a decision for months now.

TikTok, which has become especially popular among teens in recent years, has gained relentless scrutiny from the Trump administration and members of Congress overs its relationship with ByteDance, a Chinese firm. Lawmakers have voiced concerns that Americans’ information is not secure in the hands of TikTok, considering Chinese laws that require disclosures of sensitive data upon request by the government. 

TikTok has strongly pushed back against allegations about its handling of user data in recent days, with the company’s CEO releasing a statement rebuking “rumors and misinformation.” The company also sent a letter to leaders on the House Judiciary Committee last Wednesday rebutting allegations about its data practices. 

“TikTok is not available in China,” the letter said. “We store Americans’ user data in the US, with back-up in Singapore, with strict access controls for employees. We have never provided any US user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked. Any allegations to the contrary are unfounded.”

TikTok has not directly commented on Trump’s stated plans to bar the app’s use in the U.S. Though TikTok’s U.S. general manager, Vanessa Pappas, said in a video on Saturday that the company is “here for the long run.” The company has also highlighted the 1,000 people in the U.S. it has hired, noting that it plans on adding another 10,000 employees in the country in the future. 

After Trump’s comments on Friday, reports surfaced that Microsoft was in talks to purchase the short-form video app, which boasts roughly 100 million American users.

Asked about that possibility and whether it would end any opportunity for Chinese surveillance, Pompeo said on Fox News that the administration “will make sure that everything we have done drives us as close to zero risk for the American people.”

Multiple GOP Senators have voiced support of the prospect of a U.S. company purchasing TikTok to avoid an outright ban. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a tweet Sunday that a “trusted” U.S. company buying the app would be a “positive and acceptable outcome.”


Tags Donald Trump Marco Rubio Mike Pompeo

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