Lee Hunter, general manager of the Australian Tik Tok
The Australian boss of Tik Tok has refused to send user data to China because the call to ban the app is escalating due to deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two nations.
The popular video app, owned by Chinese company Bytedance, has an infinite 15-second loop of videos and is used by more than 1.6 million Australians, most of whom are under 25.
Although the social media giant only set up its Australian headquarters last month, some MPs have insisted that the app be banned due to concerns that the Chinese government could access user data or force Bytedance to transfer it.
But Australian Tik Tok CEO Lee Hunter refuted the allegations in a statement to Daily Mail Australia.
The popular video app, owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, has an infinite 15-second loop of videos and is used by over 1.6 million Australians (shown on the Chinese flag)
“TikTok does not, and would not, share information from our users in Australia with any foreign government, including the Chinese government, if requested.
“We attach the utmost importance to the privacy and integrity of users.”
He stressed that Australian user data is stored in Singapore and not in China, and efforts have been made to minimize access to data between regions.
“We prioritize building next-generation security programs to protect the privacy of our users, and understand the importance of transparency with our community to build and maintain trust.”
Tik Tok is one of the most popular apps in the world, having 315 million downloads in the first quarter of the year
On Monday, an unnamed federal MP revealed plans to submit TikTok to the foreign interference through Senate social media investigations fearing it would collect data and store the information on Chinese servers.
Labor Senator Jenny McAllister, president of the social media interference agency, acknowledged concerns about the platform had arisen.
“There are credible reports that TikTok is using more data than its users would expect, moderating content for reasons that users are uncomfortable with,” she said.
“Australians would expect TikTok and other platforms to appear before the Senate Committee to answer questions – both about their own policies and about the best way to secure a healthy social media environment.”
According to the anonymous MP, several MPs insisted that the app be banned, arguing that it poses a greater threat than the Chinese messaging app WeChat.
“It may be dressed differently, but it’s the same beast,” the MP told the Herald Sun.
TikTok is a Chinese social media app that allows users to stream live, create short videos and music videos and gifs with a myriad of features. Picture: a video shared by soldiers
Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Fergus Ryan said TikTok was full of mass surveillance and propaganda.
The app also censored all views of anti-China and anti-communist parties and had the option to send information directly to Beijing, Ryan said.
He said it was “no doubt” that the Chinese Communist Party held the data, as there are members of the party within the company.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
- Users post videos of themselves and broadcast them through the app
- Anyone can find and comment on these videos
- You can also send that person private messages
- Some of the most popular videos are viewed over 10 million times
- Each TikTok video is generally 15 to 60 seconds long
- The videos are usually set to music and often show the user dancing, doing a trick or lip sync
In January, TikTok was banned from all Australian Defense Force personnel for security fears.
Liberal MP and Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee Andrew Hastie, who served in the ADF and is a vocal critic of the Chinese state, said he feared users’ information such as their name, age and location would be accessible to the Chinese government.
“TikTok is largely used by teenagers, but they are our future leaders … and we need to protect their information in the long run,” he said.
The 37-year-old father also expressed his fear of his own children and said, “I certainly don’t want my children’s data going abroad, which they may use for disgraceful purposes.”
TikTok is the international version of the Chinese app Douyin, where users can create and upload short videos and gifs with numerous functions.
The app asks users to access their phone’s camera, list of microphone contacts, and location when they sign in.
Users of the app, which is now more popular than Snapchat, only need to be 13 years old to sign up – and can be contacted by anyone unless they make their profile private.
Even then, anyone can request to look at their photos and videos and even pretend to be another child.
But Mr. Hunter said that Australians love TikTok because the experience is ‘safe and fun’.
“We already have multiple consumer security measures in place and we continue to invest to make it even safer.”
Tensions between countries have been simmering since the Australian government announced in April an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus. In the photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping
Tensions between countries have been simmering since the Australian government announced in April an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In response, Chinese state media and leaders warned against retaliation that the Australian economy could cost $ 135 billion.
On May 18, China introduced a paralyzing rate of 80 percent on barely any exports from Australian farmers.
Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will spend $ 75 billion on the Navy, $ 65 billion on the Air Force, $ 55 billion on the military, and $ 15 billion on cybersecurity.
The state media of China responded on Friday with the statement that the communist nation will not shrink from “provocations” and could counteract this by improving its powers.
WHAT IS TIK TOK?
TikTok is a Chinese social media app that allows users to stream live, create short videos and music videos and gifs with a myriad of features.
TikTok’s slogan is ‘Make every second count’.
It was the most downloaded app in the US in 2018 and the world’s fourth most downloaded app in 2018, ahead of Instagram and Snapchat.
TikTok is known in China as Douyin, where it launched in 2016 and then made more widely available worldwide in 2017.
Douyin is still the version of the app used in China that can be downloaded separately to TikTok.
Last year, the app was merged with the popular music video lip sync app Musical.ly, also headquartered in China.
Most kids use the app to lip sync themselves to chart hits.
It provides users with a variety of colorful modification and editing tools, including overlapping music, sound, animated stickers, filters and augmented reality (AR) for creating short videos.
The Beijing-based social network has over 500 million active users and the company is now worth over $ 75 billion (£ 58 billion).