TikTok faces further question marks over basing its international headquarters in UK, as the US considers banning the app.
ByteDance, the Chinese company that owns the video-sharing app, has been in talks with the UK government about basing its HQ in London.
But the US is looking at banning all Chinese social media apps, “especially TikTok,” secretary of state Mike Pompeo announced earlier this month.
The US may only allow TikTok to keep operating if it splits from China and becomes an American company.
“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cell phones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right. I don’t want to get out in front of the President [Donald Trump], but it’s something we’re looking at,” Pompeo said during an interview with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham.
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It remains unclear how the Trump administration would be able to implement the ban, as ordering Americans not to use the app would mostly likely be unconstitutional and infringe on their First Amendment rights.
However, digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation told Fortune it could potentially ban federal workers from using the app and block federal funding.
TikTok’s plans to invest in the UK have come under doubt as a result of pressure from the US.
It follows the UK government’s decision to remove Chinese telecoms firm Huawei’s 5G equipment from Britain’s mobile networks by 2027, after the US brought multiple sanctions, criminal charges, trade restrictions, geopolitical threats, and special designations against the company.
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ByteDance said it will go ahead with the UK HQ plans. “We remain fully committed to investing in London,” a spokesman told BBC News.
A spokeswoman for the Department for International Trade told the BBC: “ByteDance’s decision on the location of their global HQ is a commercial decision for the company.”