US President Donald Trump is days away from making an announcement on Chinese software companies operating in the country which present a risk to national security, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday.
"President Trump has said 'enough' and we're going to fix it 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," Pompeo said in an interview to Fox News.
He accused Chinese-owned apps, such as TikTok and WeChat, of feeding personal data of US citizens to the Beijing government.
"Could be their facial recognition patterns. It could be information about their residence, their phone numbers, their friends, who they're connected to. Those are the issues that President Trump has made clear we're going to take care of," Pompeo said.
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"They're 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," he said.
TikTok 'can't exist as it does'
In a separate interview, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, which examines the national security implications of foreign business deals, is reviewing TikTok.
"The entire committee agrees that TikTok cannot stay in the current format because it risks sending back information on 100 million Americans," he told ABC News. " We agree there needs to be a change — force a sale or block the app. Everybody agrees it can't exist as it does"
This comes after the US President on Friday signaled that he would soon issue an executive order to ban TikTok, a popular social media platform, in the country. His move against the video-sharing app is part of a broader crackdown against Chinese companies, including telecom providers Huawei and ZTE.
Deal with Microsoft on hold
A day after Trump's threat, TikTok defended itself saying it stores US user data in the US, with strict controls on employee access.
"We are committed to protecting our users' privacy and safety as we continue working to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform," a company spokesperson said.
It also posted a video on Saturday saying, "We're not going anywhere."
Meanwhile, TikTok's parent company had proposed to divest its US business to Microsoft in a bid to make a deal with the White House. After reports that the negotiations were put on hold, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke directly with Trump and confirmed the deal could go ahead. Microsoft says it aims to complete the deal by September 15
adi/aw (AP, AFP, Reuters)