TikTok to exit Hong Kong market ‘within days’

TikTok logo on the screen.

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TikTok said it will exit the Hong Kong market after China imposes a new city security law.

“In light of recent events, we have decided to discontinue operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a spokesman for the BBC said.

The company’s exit from the city will arrive “in a few days,” according to the Reuters news agency.

Facebook and Twitter said this week that they would “pause” cooperation with Hong Kong police on user information.

The small-format video app was launched by the Chinese ByteDance for users outside mainland China as part of a strategy to grow its global audience.

The technology company runs a similar application for sharing short videos in China called Douyin.

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TikTok, now run by former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that app user data is not stored in China.

The company also said earlier that it would not comply with requests from the Chinese government to censor content or give access to its users’ data, nor was it ever asked to do so.

However, Hong Kong’s controversial national security law has given the city authorities new powers, raising concerns about data privacy.

The legislation punishes what China generally describes as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, right up to life in prison.

Critics say it erodes Hong Kong’s freedoms as a semi-autonomous region, including free speech.

Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google and Telegram announced this week that they are also making changes to their operations in Hong Kong following the entry into force of the new security law last week.

Technology firms said they did not process data requests from the Hong Kong police while assessing the political changes taking place in the city.

“Security Restore”

On Tuesday, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam defended the national security law imposed by Beijing saying it was not “condemnation and darkness” for the city.

Lam said the law will restore Hong Kong’s status as one of the safest cities in the world after last year’s democratic protests have often become violent.

“Compared to the national security laws of other countries, it is a rather delicate law. Its scope is not as broad as that in other countries and even in China,” he said.

The legislation has been heavily criticized globally for undermining the freedoms guaranteed by “one country, two systems” agreed as part of the former British colony’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.

Also on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the United States “is certainly watching” by banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.

“I don’t want to go out in front of the president (Donald Trump), but it’s something we’re looking at,” said Pompeo.

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