U.S. TikTok exec says it’s not a national security threat, it’s just caught in geopolitical clash

TikTok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

TikTok doubled down on its message that it’s not a national security threat, reassuring users that it will be available for the foreseeable future.

“We’re not a national security threat and we’ve said that time and again,” Vanessa Pappas, general manager of TikTok U.S., said in an interview that aired Wednesday on NBC’s Today show. “We have very strict data controls in place, we have an amazing team that’s building world class infrastructure.”

The Chinese-owned social media app is under pressure from the White House, which has vowed to ban the app if its parent company, ByteDance, does not sell or spin off its U.S. operations by November 12.

“There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance … might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States,” President Donald Trump said in an executive order last week. 

Pappas has repeatedly denied the Trump administration’s claims that it transfers user data to China. The company said its U.S. user data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore. It’s also stressed that its data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of their data is subject to Chinese law.

When asked what the president meant by a credible threat, Pappas pointed toward increasing geopolitical tension between Washington and Beijing. 

“We’re in the middle of that,” she said. 

Microsoft and Oracle have been in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations

Pappas declined to comment on a potential deal, but assured she was confident in the app’s future.

“TikTok is here for the long run,” Pappas said. “We are more than confident in our future and to the millions of Americans out there who use the app on a daily basis, we’re committed to providing them with the exact same experience today and in the future.”

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