Science & Technology

Australian PM says no evidence of TikTok data abuse

Sydney, Australia, Aug 5 (efe-epa).- There is no evidence that TikTok abuses or sells the data it collects from its users and no reason to ban it in the country, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday.

Australia, like the United States, has in its sights the short video app TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.

“We have had a good look at this, and there is no evidence for us to suggest… that there is any misuse of any people’s data,” Morrison said Wednesday in a video conference address at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, United States.

However, the prime minister pointed out that the public should be “very aware” that the company obtains an enormous amount of data from users and “that information can be accessed at a sovereign state level,” in a veiled reference to the Beijing government, Australian media reported.

“Australians have to be very aware, and it’s not just with TikTok and things like that,” Morrison said.

Australia and China have a tense diplomatic relationship despite their huge trade exchanges, but Morrison said that “there is no reason for us to restrict those applications at this point. We’ll obviously keep watching them.”

Microsoft is in discussions to buy TikTok in the US, and on Monday US President Donald Trump gave ByteDance a deadline of Sep. 15 to sell TikTok or face a ban on operating in the country for reasons of national security.

TikTok, which in the US has more than 80 million users, is a social media app that has grown rapidly in the country, where it has become hugely popular among teenagers and is used as a marketing channel for celebrities.

The Trump administration, as well as prominent Democratic lawmakers, claim that the widespread use of TikTok puts data privacy and national security at risk, since they maintain that the app has links to the Chinese government.

The TikTok case is the latest episode in the China-US conflict, which has shifted from the commercial to the technological field, and could further fester after the announcement by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Trump will soon act against Chinese software companies that he regards as a risk to national security. EFE-EPA


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