WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the country is “looking at” banning TikTok, the popular short-video sharing network often used for lip-syncing and dance videos, from operating in America. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company. According to Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimate, it was downloaded more than 2 billion times globally on the App Store and Google Play.“We have been engaged in a constant evaluation about ensuring that we protect the privacy of American citizens and their information as it transits,” Pompeo added on Wednesday. According to the Secretary of State, “this doesn’t relate to any one particular business or company but rather to American national security, and we are striving to get that right.” He added that his remarks about TikTok were in the context of the US evaluating the threat from the Chinese Communist Party. “We’ve talked about it in the context of ZTE, we’ve talked about it in the context of Huawei and we are now evaluating each instance where we believe that US citizens’ data that they have on their phones or in their system or in their health care records – we want to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party doesn’t have a way to easily access that.”“TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product and public policy here in the US. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked,” a spokesperson told CNBC in response to Pompeo’s comments.“China’s National Security Law requires that, if asked, any Chinese company must provide its user data to the Party and its security services,” Bonnie Glaser, Director of China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Jerusalem Post. “Foreign and domestic tech companies are routinely asked by Chinese security organs to give up data against their business and customer interests,” she added.Samm Sacks, a Senior Fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center, told the Post that control over data is the great power competition of the 21st century. “While many people already understand that, the US and China are locked in a technology competition but only now is it becoming clear that the data fueling these technologies has moved front and center.“Companies like TikTok are in the crossfire,” Sacks explained. “Washington is investigating TikTok as a US national security risk for two reasons: data access by the Chinese government and the possibility that Beijing could censor content. TikTok states that the company is firewalled off from its Chinese parent, ByteDance, and that data does not flow to Beijing and all content decisions are made by the American-executive run business in the United States. This is entirely plausible given the great lengths that the Chinese government has gone to segment TikTok from the Chinese version of the app, Douyin. If you have a Chinese cell phone, you can’t even download the TikTok app.”She noted that the problem is that so far there is no independent outside audit that can verify the separation between TikTok and its Chinese parent. “If TikTok is to survive in the United States it will need to open itself up to this kind of audit,” she said. “If the US government still insists on shutting down TikTok even if the company can prove its independence, then we know it’s all about politics.”Adam Segal, Director of Digital and Cyberspace Policy Program at Council on Foreign Relations, told the Post that there are some risks of censorship or the platform being abused for influence operations. “The app also seems to have access to a great deal of data on the phone, which is a security threat, though TikTok says Chinese government does not have access to foreign users’ data. There is, however, a degree of politics involved, with the Trump Administration wanting to stop the global expansion of Chinese tech firms,” he noted.And how could China react if indeed the US would ban the app?“The Chinese could retaliate by promoting a customer boycott of a US company, say Apple, or investigating another firm, which they have done in the past,” said Segal.