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TikTok was the most down­loaded app during the month of Sep­tember 2019. | Wikipedia

TikTok, the most-down­loaded social media app in Sep­tember, is looking to cut its Chinese roots. And for good reason: Through TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, the Chinese gov­ernment demands access to TikTok’s user data. And when requested, ByteDance hands it over.

Now TikTok wants to move out of Beijing and into Sin­gapore or else­where in Southeast Asia. That’s a great idea — and other com­panies would do well to follow suit, even if it means losing profits.

Earlier this month, United States sen­ators called to undertake a national security review undertook an inves­ti­gation into TikTok’s ties with China, con­cerned that the company was cen­soring content to please Beijing. ByteDance runs ads for Chinese gov­ernment min­istries at no cost, according to the Wall Street Journal. The company also sur­renders users’ cell phone numbers and national citizen iden­ti­fi­cation numbers to Chinese police if they’re deemed nec­essary to inves­tigate an alleged crime.

As a former TikTok employee who worked in the company’s Los Angeles office told the Wall Street Journal, TikTok “is a Chinese company” who “answers to China.”

Other orga­ni­za­tions such as the NBA and Google eagerly kowtow to China. After Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted in support of Hong Kong’s pro­testors last month, the rest of the NBA rushed to appease China’s Com­munist leaders. Google also col­lab­o­rates with the Chinese gov­ernment, agreeing to censor certain search-engine requests. It also runs an arti­ficial intel­li­gence lab in Beijing.

For the pro­tection of privacy and human rights, large cor­po­ra­tions should be leery in business dealings with China, and they should not sac­rifice users’ privacy for the sake of com­plying with a total­i­tarian regime. TikTok should exit China, and the others should follow.