TIKTOK has pulled its app from Hong Kong over a “police state” security law after claims that the Chinese app is spying on users for Beijing.
The social media giant, owned by Chinese company Byte Dance, announced its intention to withdraw earlier this week after China imposed controversial new security laws on the city.
TikTok has pulled its app from Hong Kong [/caption]
The hardline laws – which reportedly could see dissidents jailed for life – were passed unanimously by the Chinese parliament.
They follow increasing unrest on the island amid the emergence of a blossoming pro-democracy movement.
The protests were initially a backlash to a planned law that would allow Hong Kongers convicted of crimes to be extradited to China and Taiwan.
But they have since mushroomed into a broader backlash against the police, fuelled by fears of growing control by China’s Communist Party.
The laws will criminalise any act of subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces and it has been alleged that Hong Kong will become a secret police state.
The new sweeping powers given to the Chinese authorities raised concerns about data privacy and TikTok has withdrawn from the Hong Kong market as a result.
“Thank you for the time you have spent on TikTok and giving us the opportunity to bring a little bit of joy into your life,” a statement read.
“We regret to inform you that we have discontinued operating TikTok in Hong Kong.”
TikTok decided to stop operations in Hong Kong ‘in light of recent events’, a spokesperson said[/caption]
The hardline laws aim to take back control following protests against the Chinese government[/caption]
‘DATA IN THE HANDS OF CHINA’
Despite TikTok previously claiming that it would not “comply” with any requests to censor content by the Chinese government, the app has come under fire from several nations.
Claims that TikTok data was being shared with Beijing authorities were taken “very seriously” by the White House, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right,” Pompeo said during an interview on Fox News, when he was asked about a possible US TikTok ban.
Americans should only use the app if they want their “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.
The Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps including TikTok over spying fears after deadly border clashes between the nuclear states in June.
India’s Ministry of Information Technology insisted the apps were “prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order.”
The app insisted it “continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and had not shared information with the Chinese government.”
TikTok’s links to China put every user at risk of “spying and censorship” as Chinese companies are legally required to share data with Beijing, according to cyber experts.
The ban was thought to be India’s first big retaliation after a 500-soldier brawl between the nuclear-armed states in Galwan Valley on June 15.
Chinese state media boasted that it was ready for conflict with India after it threatened revenge for the death of 20 Indian soldiers.
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TikTok was accused of spying on Apple users after a new beta iOS 14 feature was created to notify users whenever an app tries to access their clipboard.
It was feared that apps could access bank account details and passwords whenever they were copied over as the clipboard can only store one piece of data at a time.
The apps were said to be able to access the clipboards of the devices that they were being used.
TikTok justified its actions by saying it was only trying to prevent spam. It later said it would to remove this feature.
China’s new security laws
The legislation sparks the most radical changes to the former British colony since it was returned to China in 1997.
Dissidents reportedly could be jailed for life.
The exact wording is kept under wraps but it’s thought to criminalise any act of subversion, collusion or terrorism with foreign forces.
Sabotaging transport is now deemed an act of terrorism under the new laws.
The laws allow China’s feared security agencies to start working in Hong Kong for the first time.
Beijing can interfere in national security, especially during crises or if a case is deemed “complex.”
Protesters hold up blank pieces of paper as slogans are banned under the national security law[/caption]
An anti-national security law protester holds a Hong Kong independence flag[/caption]
People participate in a rally to support Hong Kong pro-democracy protests in front of Chinese Embassy in Seoul [/caption]