Australian Government Did Not Contact TikTok During Security Probe

Tyumen, Russia - January 21, 2020: TikTok and Facebook application  on screen Apple iPhone XR
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TikTok Australia managing director Lee Hunter has told a Senate committee the company was not contacted by the Department of Home Affairs during an investigation into whether or not the app posed a threat to national security.

In July, it was revealed the Morrison government would launch an investigation into the popular app, with the Prime Minister publicly announcing the government was watching TikTok “very closely”.

Shortly after the announcement, Morrison seemingly confirmed the outcome of the review, when he ruled out banning TikTok in Australia, telling the Aspen Security Forum there was “nothing at this point that would suggest to us that security interests have been compromised or Australian citizens have been compromised because of what’s happening with those applications”.

And according to Hunter, TikTok only learned about the outcome of the inquiry via media reports.

“We were not asked to engage directly with those agencies [Department of Home Affairs]… We initially learned about (the outcome of the review) through the media,” Hunter said.

Hunter’s comments were made during a Senate committee hearing last week.

During the hearing, Hunter distanced the app from the Chinese government.

He revealed TikTok’s moderators are based in 20 countries around the world – but none in China.

“It’s important to note that we don’t moderate or remove content based on the political sensitivities of China,” he said.
“TikTok is not China. We are an app. We are not based in China. We do not moderate or remove content at the request of the Chinese government.”
TikTok Australia’s public policy director Brett Thomas echoed this sentiment.
“We would never give Australian user data to the Chinese. We never have and we never would.”
The comments follow previous claims made in TikTok’s submission to the Senate inquiry, in which the app stated all Australian data is stored in either the US or Singapore.
“We have strict controls around security and data access. As noted in our Transparency Reports, TikTok has never shared Australian user data with the Chinese government, nor censored Australian content at its request,” the submission said.

 

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