The issue of national security in relation to Chinese apps has been a topic of concern for the US government for a while now. However, in a recent interview with Bloomberg, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo revealed that the government is not only concerned about TikTok but also other Chinese-backed apps.
Raimondo expressed worry over the dangers posed by Chinese-backed companies being on millions of American phones, including those of military personnel. She cited privacy concerns, data concerns, and misinformation concerns, stating that these dangers were not limited to TikTok alone.
Despite these concerns, Chinese apps remain the most popular apps in the US, with Temu, CapCut, and TikTok being the top three free apps on Apple‘s App Store, while Google Play Store’s top three were Temu, TikTok, and Street Fighter: Duel, with Shein coming in at number four.
CapCut, a video editor for TikTok, is owned by ByteDance, the same tech giant that owns TikTok. Temu, on the other hand, is a shopping app that gained traction in the US late last year but experienced a significant surge in downloads after airing two commercials during the Super Bowl.
However, TikTok still has the biggest target on its back. An influential House committee recently approved legislation to ban TikTok in the US, although the bill still has to go through the full House and Senate. Government agencies also have 30 days from Feb. 27 to ensure TikTok is deleted from all federal devices and systems.
While some experts believe that all popular Chinese apps could pose similar challenges to TikTok, including data harvesting, data exploitation, and covert influence, others think that the fears are overblown. Technologist and author Kevin Xu noted that US legislators, policymakers, and think-tankers have yet to produce any concrete evidence of harm done by the app.
Despite the controversy surrounding Chinese apps, they continue to enjoy massive popularity among US consumers. While the government’s concerns are valid, it remains to be seen whether any concrete actions will be taken against these apps.