TikTok Denies Involvement In Oz Government Probe
The Australian government has been warned it should reopen an investigation into the controversial app Tik Tok after it was revealed the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform was not contacted at all during the initial probe.
Lee Hunter, TikTok’s Australian managing director, confirmed during a Senate committee hearing last week the app had not been in contact with the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
The investigation by the federal government found the app did not pose serious national security concerns and there was no Chinese interference in Australia via Tik Tok.
“We were not asked to engage directly with those agencies … We initially learned about (the outcome of the review) through the media,” Hunter said.
Committee chair Jenny McAllister, an opposition senator, said the Home Affairs Department failed in its responsibility to speak directly to TikTok as part of its security investigation. Not doing so was “quite incredible to me,” she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison assured Australia’s view of TikTok was not at all the same as how the US is treating the app and its potential security risks.
“There is nothing at this point that would suggest to us that security interests have been compromised or Australian citizens have been compromised,” Morrison said.
However Fergus Ryan, lead researcher of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s report into China’s influence on social media, said TikTok may be intentionally censoring certain content and this theory warranted a more thorough investigation from the Australian government.
“How can Australians have any faith in the security review of TikTok, when Home Affairs didn’t even engage with the company,” Ryan said.
“I was surprised at how quickly (the review) seemed to go from start to finish, and I don’t think you can have a thorough understanding of the national security risks of an app like this so quickly.”
A spokesperson for TikTok said the Chinese-owned company places “the highest importance” on user privacy and integrity.
“TikTok does not share the information of our users in Australia with any foreign government, including the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked,” the company spokesperson said.
“TikTok Australia user data is stored in Singapore and the US, with strict controls on employee access. TikTok does not moderate content at the request of or under the influence of any foreign government.”
A US judge in Washington is slated to make a decision about the app’s future in America later today and will decide whether to block the Trump administration’s attempt to ban TikTok from being downloaded via Apple and Google.