• Short-form video app ‘to stop operations’ in city
  • Cites China’s decision to impose controversial national security law
  • Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Google also making changes to Hong Kong operations


TikTok: New Hong Kong security law stops app in its tracks

TikTok has said it will quit Hong Kong after China imposed a new national security law on the city.

The move comes as other technology companies including Facebook and Twitter suspend processing government requests for user data in the region, following the imposition of the new national security law for the semi-autonomous city.

“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a TikTok spokesman told Reuters today.

The company, now run by former Walt Disney executive Kevin Mayer, has said in the past that the app’s user data is not stored in China. The short form video app owned by China-based ByteDance.

The company’s exit from the city will come “within days,” according to Reuters.

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

The tech company operates a similar short video sharing app in China called Douyin.

The company has said previously that it would not comply with any Chinese government requests to censor content or give access to its users’ data, nor has it ever been asked to do so.

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

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

Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google and Telegram have all announced this week that they are making changes to their operations in Hong Kong after the new security law came into force last week.

The tech firms have said they are not processing data requests from the Hong Kong police while they assess the ongoing political changes in the city.

Just hours after TikTok’s announcement, the video conferencing platform Zoom told Hong Kong Free Press it would also stop complying with data requests from Hong Kong authorities.

Observers say the move by TikTok could be strategic. Analysts say TikTok keen to show that it is not simply a Chinese-owned firm - but a global company that is also an international and responsible social media player.

Its biggest market is India - where it has recently been banned by the Indian government because of a border conflict with China.