US considers banning TikTok, other Chinese-owned apps over data privacy fears

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the US is looking at banning popular social media app TikTok as part of a crackdown on Chinese-owned cellphone apps. 

It follows ongoing fears for private data-safety, but comes as TikTok joins other social media giants in exiting Hong Kong, which has introduced sweeping national security laws. 

Many teenage American TikTok stars have risen to fame on the much-loved social media platform, gaining millions of followers.  

But now the US has signalled it will look at banning the short-form video app, created by Chinese tech company ByteDance, that's had billions of downloads worldwide.  

Pompeo says the US is looking at cracking down on Chinese-owned cellphone apps - Tiktok included - because of safety fears for users' private information.  

"It's something we're looking at," he said. "Would you recommend people download that app on their phones tonight, tomorrow, anytime? Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party."

It's a claim that TikTok rejects. 

"TikTok would never share any user information with any foreign government - including the Chinese government," a spokesperson told Channel 7.

India has already banned Tiktok - one of more than 50 Chinese-owned apps it's blocked - citing a threat to its sovereignty and following a deadly clash between India and China at the disputed border. 

Australia has also signalled concerns of data-funnelling through apps. 

Meanwhile TikTok has announced it is pulling out of Hong Kong after Beijing passed a controversial national security law banning dissent against China. 

An app most popular with young people for its often light-hearted content is now accused of something more serious: providing users' data to China.