Shadow Cyber Security Minister James Paterson has called for TikTok to be banned in Australia if the country cannot resolve national cybersecurity concerns on the Chinese-owned platform.
Calls for the app to be prohibited Down Under have grown since the release of research conducted by software engineer Felix Krause, which revealed that TikTok captured every user's keystrokes.
The keystroke data can include accumulating password and credit card details, which is why it's sparked so much concern.
While speaking with The Australian, Minister Peterson said: "If the government can’t solve [national security concerns regarding social media platforms] any other way, then a ban should be on the table.
"I think the geopolitical environment which we are in puts an extra impetus on addressing this now- we don’t want to wake up in a conflict scenario and think we need to protect our cyber security.
“If god forbid the worst happens we need to be sure we're in a secure cybersecurity position."
Professor of business information systems at the University of Sydney, Uri Gal, said surveilling users' information ‘presents a different kind of risk’ as the company that owns TikTok, ByteDance, allegedly has ties to the Chinese Communist party, according to The Guardian.
He said the company could ‘gather as much information as possible for industrial espionage purposes, and shape public opinion that is more toward their interests'.
Mr Peterson also shared a letter he had received from TikTok last month, which revealed that its Chinese staff were able to access users’ private information.
Mr Peterson said that the letter conflicted with the app’s previous statements disclosing that Australian user information was safely stored in the US and Singapore.
TikTok Australia has replied to my letter and admitted that Australian user data is also accessible in mainland China, putting it within reach of the Chinese government, despite their previous assurances it was safe because it was stored in the US and Singapore pic.twitter.com/ITY1HNEo6v— James Paterson (@SenPaterson) July 12, 2022
He added: “I’ve written to @tiktokaustralia following revelations in the US that user data is accessible in mainland China, putting it within reach of the Chinese government. Australian TikTok users deserve to know whether their private information is equally exposed.”
Additionally, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said that TikTok users needed to proceed with caution following the letter, as per ABC News.
"Those concerns have been there for some time, and we take advice from our various national security agencies," Mr Chalmers said.
"Australians need to be careful online and we need to recognise the risks of participating in some of those platforms."
TikTok has previously said while staff in China can access user data, it's only accessible for a very limited number of employees.
TikTok's director of public policy, Brent Thomas, told the Australian Financial Review: "There are strict protocols in place to protect Australian user data."
He added: "Our security teams minimise the number of people who have access to data and limit it only to people who need that access in order to do their jobs.
“We have policies and procedures that limit internal access to Australian user data by our employees, wherever they’re based, based on need.”
Featured Image Credit: Siraj Ahmad / Alamy Stock Photo. Vanessa Nunes / Alamy Stock Photo
Topics: Social Media, TikTok, Australia, Politics, China