Amid the ongoing border scuffle between India and China, the former has begun to crack down on products, services, hardware, and software from the latter. This has already led to challenges in diplomacy between the two countries. Meanwhile, the United States and the United Kingdom are likewise at odds with Beijing after both labelled Huawei's telecommunication gear a security threat. Even the popular TikTok app has been called into question for its alleged ties with the Chinese government. In an effort to change that perception, it plans to move the bulk of its operations to London.
The video-sharing and social networking service has been allegedly collecting personal information for China, as speculated by tech pundits. To ease its user's doubts, ByteDance – the company that owns TikTok – announced its intent to set up its global headquarters outside of its home country. However, the recent tensions between China, the U.S., and the U.K. cast doubts whether it will push through.
It appears that nothing has come up that would push TikTok to cancel its bid for an office in London. Moreover, the management confirmed that it has never and will not hand over user data to the Communist Party in China. In fact, Theo Bertram, the company's head of public policy for Europe, points out that all allegations are "completely false."
"TikTok is not available in China," he explained in an interview on BBC Radio 4. "TikTok is a company incorporated in the US. There is zero truth to the accusations that the Chinese state has access to TikTok users' data." Furthermore, even if the Chinese government would pressure it to do so, ByteDance will reportedly refuse.
Bertram voiced out concern over the app being "kicked around as a political football." In addition to its commitment to privacy and safety for millions of its users, TikTok assured that it follows a strict zero-tolerance policy against child sex abuse. ByteDance already reworked previous issues with its terms and agreement. In a related report, the app was also in the headlines last month when the beta version of iOS 14 flagged the app for accessing the device's clipboard. Nevertheless, this was cleared by the developers.