Post US-China trade ban fiasco, software, and hardware developed in China have received immense scrutiny for conducting mass surveillance. Many governments and organizations have openly broadcasted their opinion when it comes to not trusting Chinese services.
The main reason behind this, as Victor Gevers, head of research at the Dutch Institute of Vulnerability Disclosure (DIVD) puts it, is:
Every Chinese tech company has to comply with the Chinese cybersecurity law, which allows the Chinese government to have access to the data these companies collect – this is part of the nationwide mass surveillance systems that are in place in China.
As a result, around 59 Chinese applications, including TikTok, were banned in India last month. Soon after, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement that the United States is considering banning TikTok and other Chinese social media applications.
Now, Japan is also considering banning Chinese social media applications. Reportedly, a group of Japanese lawmakers is seeking to restrict the use of TikTok and other apps, citing security concerns. The lawyers share the same concerns as officials in the US and India that their domestic user data could end up in the hands of Beijing.
According to a report by Japanese national broadcaster NHK, the group of lawyers plans to submit the proposal to the Japanese government as early as September.
Japan was TikTok’s first overseas success, and the app has consistently ranked at the top among entertainment apps. At the time of writing, TikTok is the fifth-most downloaded app across all categories in the country. Hence, the ban will be a huge setback for the Chinese application.
In response to the scrutiny from Japan, TikTok released a statement:
There’s a lot of misinformation about TikTok out there. TikTok has an American CEO, a Chief Information Security Officer with decades of industry, US military, and law enforcement experience, and a US team that works diligently to develop a best-in-class security infrastructure. Four of our parent company’s five board seats are controlled by some of the world’s best-respected global investors. TikTok US/ user data is stored in the US and Singapore, with strict controls on employee access.