Technology

TikTok responds to claims of Chinese influence

Firm says it doesn't remove content at the request of Chinese government.

Video sharing app TikTok has denied claims that it removes content sensitive to China, in response to growing national security fears in the US.

The platform, which is popular among young people, said it has never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and would not agree to do so if asked.

In a statement, TikTok said its data centres are located entirely outside of China, and affirmed that none of the data it holds is subject to Chinese law.

“We are not influenced by any foreign government, including the Chinese government; TikTok does not operate in China, nor do we have any intention of doing so in the future,” the company said.

TikTok is owned by Beijing-based tech firm ByteDance, which runs an alternative version of the app for the Chinese market known as Douyin.

It claims to have more than 500 million active users in some 150 countries and regions.

The app has most recently been under the spotlight after US senators Tom Cotton and Chuck Schumer sent a letter to intelligence officials asking for an assessment of the national security risks posed by TikTok and other China-owned content platforms to be carried out.

“TikTok is a potential counterintelligence threat we cannot ignore,” the pair said.

It comes at a time of increased tensions between the US and China, the former notably blocking Chinese telcom giant Huawei as part of an Entity List, effectively a blacklist of companies the United States will not trade with.

President Trump has accused Huawei of being used by the Chinese state for spying operations, although UK authorities have found no evidence of ways for Huawei to access information through backchannels in their technology.

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