Trump to get tough on China software
US president Donald Trump plans to take action on what he sees as a broad array of national security risks presented by software connected to the Chinese Communist Party, secretary of state Mike Pompeo has said.
Mr Pompeo’s remarks came as Microsoft confirmed it was in talks to buy the US operations of TikTok, which has been a source of national security and censorship concerns for the Trump administration.
“These Chinese software companies doing business in the United States, whether it’s TikTok or WeChat — there are countless more ... are feeding data directly to the Chinese Communist Party, their national security apparatus,” Mr Pompeo told the Fox News Channel.
“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 president Trump has made clear we’re going to take care of,” he said.
TikTok’s US user data is stored in the US, with strict controls on employee access, and its biggest investors come from the US.
“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 TikTok spokesperson said.
Mr Trump had said on Friday he would soon ban TikTok in the United States.
A federal committee is reviewing whether that is possible, but its members agree TikTok can not remain in the US in its current form, because it “risks sending back information on 100 million Americans”, said treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin.
As speculation grew over a ban or sale of the social media’s US business, TikTok posted a video on Saturday saying: “We’re not planning on going anywhere.”
Microsoft confirmed on Sunday night it is in talks with Chinese company ByteDance, which owns TikTok, to acquire the US arm of the popular video app.
Mr Trump’s plans to tackle the Chinese software issue came just ahead of the news that a Manhattan prosecutor trying to get the president’s tax returns told a judge he was justified in demanding them due to public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organisation”.
Mr Trump’s lawyers last month said the grand jury subpoena for the tax returns was issued in bad faith and amounted to harassment of the president.
Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance is seeking eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation relates to pay-offs to women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Mr Trump.
But in a court filing yesterday, attorneys for Mr Vance said Mr Trump’s arguments that the subpoena was too broad stemmed from “the false premise” that the probe was limited to so-called “hush-money” payments.
“This court is already aware that this assertion is fatally undermined by undisputed information in the public record,” Mr Vance’s lawyers wrote.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo.