TikTok is withdrawing its app from Hong Kong as tech reckons with new security law
TikTok is withdrawing its popular short video app from Google and Apple app stores in Hong Kong, a company spokesperson told Reuters late Monday.
TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance Ltd., will pull out of the Hong Kong market within days, and the app will be inoperable there. The announcement comes one week after the enactment of a controversial new national security law in Hong Kong that prompted a spate of technology companies to suspend some operations in the region while they review the new law.
“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” the TikTok spokesperson said on Monday. A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to Fortune’s emailed request for comment.
Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., Google, and Telegram have stopped processing user data requests from Hong Kong authorities while they review the national security law, and Apple said it is “assessing” the new law, which went into effect in Hong Kong on June 30.
The national security law is expected to give authorities in Hong Kong wide-ranging powers that analysts worry will curtail data privacy rights and online freedom there.
TikTok’s departure from Hong Kong—a small, unprofitable market for the app, according to Reuters—comes a week after its ban in India, which accounted for 30% of worldwide TikTok downloads in the first quarter of 2020.
India banned TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps last week after a violent border clash between Chinese and Indian military troops left 20 Indian soldiers dead. ByteDance may lose more than $6 billion as a result of the ban. The TikTok parent is the world’s most valuable startup, according to CB Insights; its investors include Sequoia Capital China, Softbank, and SIG Asia.
Several U.S. Congress members have criticized the app for allegedly storing user data on servers in China and for censoring content to comply with China’s censorship rules, charges that TikTok denied last year. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late Monday that the U.S. is “certainly looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps.
This story has been updated.
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