The Australian government is facing calls to ban the popular video social media app TikTok due to spying fears.
The app is owned by Chinese company Bytedance and boasts more than 1.6 million Australian accounts.
The Herald Sun claims TikTok can 'mine' users' data and feed it directly to Beijing. Because of its popularity in Australia and around the world, it has largely gone unscrutinised by authorities. However, that could soon change.
An unnamed Australian MP has highlighted their concerns with the app and says there are other politicians who share their worries.
"It might be dressed differently but it's the same beast," the MP told the newspaper.
There are now plans to put TikTok through the Foreign Interference through Social Media senate inquiry. That committee was set up late last year and its sole task is to inquire into and report on the risk posed to Australia's democracy by foreign interference through social media.
Committee chair Senator Jenny McAllister said they have no issues investigating the app to make sure Australian users' data isn't being shared.
"I think Australians will expect to hear from them," she told the Herald Sun.
"Part of the job of this Committee is to get all of those stakeholders in the room and create a forum where we can have a really good discussion about what are the boundaries, about what is and isn't acceptable on these types of matters."
There have been fears about the app for some time and how much information could be gleaned from users accounts.
Foreign Interference committee member and Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching said they have been dealing with 'credible evidence' suggesting some information can be passed on without users knowing.
She added that the data is sent to servers in China 'where it can then be analysed and used by authorities to identify and build profiles to track users'.
A spokesperson for the app has released a statement saying that work is underway to tighten some of the rules around data access.
"TikTok takes user data security seriously and has steadily worked to increase controls on access," the TikTok spokeswoman said.
"In April, our CISO outlined efforts to minimise data access across regions so that, for example, employees in other parts of the APAC region, including China, would have very minimal access to user data."
India recently banned the app being used across the country, along with 59 other apps produced by or in China.
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