- TikTok will remain in Australia after the federal government decided against banning the app, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
- It comes after concerns were raised about the potential of the app to pose a national security threat.
- According to the SMH, Morrison told 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”.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
Australia is keeping TikTok.
The federal government won’t be banning the hugely popular short-form video app after security agencies found it doesn’t raise serious concerns over national security, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
This decision comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an investigation into the possible security threats posed by apps like TikTok and WeChat. While the government is assessing ways to handle privacy and security risks posed by such companies, it has decided against a ban or restrictions.
TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance and recently opened a headquarters in Sydney.
According to the SMH, Morrison said 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”.
Morrison did mention, however, that there is still a risk that personal data could be sent over to Beijing and warned Australians “to be very aware”.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum through a video call on Wednesday, Morrison warned that “people should know that the line connects right back to China and that they should exercise their own judgement about whether they should participate in those things or not.”
He added that there was arguably more transparency with apps like Watsapp, compared to TikTok, when it comes to how data is managed.
Nonetheless, the government would “keep watching” social media apps.
TikTok has faced scrutiny in Australia, with some alleging its popularity also gives the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) the potential to harvest data from its more than 1 billion active users – 1.6 million of which are Australian.
“There have been credible reports that TikTok takes more data than its users would expect, and moderates content for reasons that its users may not be comfortable with,” Senator Jenny McAllister, chair of the Select Committee on Foreign Interference Through Social Media, said in a statement back in July.
In response to these allegations, however, TikTok Australia maintained its independence from the CCP.
“TikTok does not share information of our users in Australia with any foreign government, including the Chinese government, and would not do so if asked. We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” TikTok Australia’s general manager Lee Hunter told Business Insider Australia in a statement at the time.
Earlier this year India banned TikTok and dozens of Chinese apps over concerns about national security and privacy of user data. The Australian Defence Force also banned the app from being downloaded on any device it gave to staff.
Over in the US, President Donald Trump reportedly told reporters his administration would ban the app it unless it was sold to a US company by September 15.
Tech giant Microsoft has made a play for the app, confirming in August that it is in discussions to buy TikTok’s US operations.