CEO of Axel Springer says TikTok should be ‘banned’

Former President Donald Trump made headlines in 2020 when he made moves aimed at banning the Chinese-owned video hosting platform TikTok.

While the president’s ban was ultimately challenged in court and eventually reversed by his successor, one major publishing figure says it needs to be reinstated. 

Banned “in every country?”

German media mogul Mathias Döpfner is CEO of Axel Springer, which owns such online news outlets as Politico, Mourning Brew, and Business Insider.

According to The Wrap, Döpfner told attendees at Vox Media’s Code Conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday that Western governments are being “naive and dangerous” by letting TikTok operate in their countries.

“TikTok should be banned in every democracy,” Döpfner said during his speech at the event. He later reiterated that message in an interview with journalist Kara Swisher and professor Scott Galloway.

“TikTok should be banned in every country,” he said. “We have at the moment a naïveté with dealing with China…. We hand over personal data to the Chinese government. It is of course a tool of espionage.”

Calls for deletion

In June of this year, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr echoed Döpfner’s concerns by tweeting out evidence that TikTok is effectively a data mining operation run on behalf of the Chinese government.

“TikTok is not just another video app. That’s the sheep’s clothing,” the commissioner declared. “It harvests swaths of sensitive data that new reports show are being accessed in Beijing.”

What’s more, Carr called on Apple and Google to stop carrying TikTok’s app in their stores, something both tech companies have thus far refused to do.

In addition to concerns about Chinese espionage, some lawmakers have pushed for more regulation of TikTok on grounds that it puts children at risk of criminal exploitation.

Fox News reported in July that Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick have introduced the Combating Harmful Actions with Transparency on Social Act (CHATS Act), which would empower the FBI to better track offenses committed over social media.