Trump to get tough on China soft­ware

Irish Examiner - - World News - Cathy Busse­witz

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.

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