Australians concerned about CCP access to TikTok data: poll

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An overwhelming majority of respondents are concerned about Beijing’s ability to access Australian users’ personal information via TikTok, a poll has found.

Victorian Liberal Senator James Paterson commissioned pollster Tele Town Hall last week to survey attitudes towards TikTok among almost 630 people in the McEwen constituency, north of Melbourne, and more than 1 200 people in downtown Kooyong.

Respondents were asked: “Are you concerned about the Chinese Communist Party’s ability to access the personal information of Australians on social media platforms such as TikTok?”

Almost four-fifths of respondents from McEwan and three-quarters from Kooyong expressed concerns about the security of personal information stored on TikTok.

A symbol of TikTok (Douyin) is pictured at The Place shopping mall at dusk in Beijing, China on August 22, 2020. (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

TikTok is a hugely popular short-form video platform that allows users to create, share, and view 15-second videos, often featuring singing, dancing, or comedy.

The app attracted 100 million Chinese users within a year of its launch in September 2016 in China as “Douyin”, and relaunched as TikTok internationally in September 2017. attracting dozens of celebrity users and partnerships with the NBA, NFL and Comedy. Central.

In 2020, less than four years after its inception, TikTok had nearly one billion active users worldwide.

However, the China-based social media platform has come under scrutiny due to censorship, ownership by Chinese company ByteDance and a reported link to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). , who can make a direct request for access to user data under the National Intelligence Act 2017.

TikTok has around seven million users in Australia. Despite repeated promises never to hand over Australian user data to the CCP, TikTok admitted in July that it could access Australian user data in mainland China.

Epoch Times Photo
Senator James Paterson of the centre-right Liberal Party before a press conference in Parliament in Canberra, Australia, September 5, 2022. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

“Australians are miles ahead of the government in recognizing the threats associated with social media apps that are subject to the dictates of an authoritarian regime,” said Paterson, shadow minister for cybersecurity and anti-corruption. foreign interference, to the Herald Sun.

“The Albanian government must resist the public relations, publicity and lobbying blitz launched by TikTok to protect their unregulated access to Australians’ private data.”

Reports Reveal TikTok Security Risks

A white paper on TikTok investigations published in July by Internet 2.0, an Australian cybersecurity company, reported that TikTok tracks GPS location on Android devices at least once an hour and continues to request contact information until that it is granted after users initially deny access to their Contacts.

After that, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), an intelligence and cybersecurity agency, advised Australian lawmakers and their staff to get two phones to separate business and private information.

In August, Felix Krause, a researcher and developer formerly employed by Google, published a report on the risks associated with certain iOS applications injecting JavaScript code into third-party browsers.

He discovered that TikTok monitors keystrokes and touchscreen activities when users open a link in the app, which can include passwords, credit card information or other sensitive information. entered by the user.

Home Secretary orders review of TikTok data collection

Patterson called on the Albanian government not to rule out banning TikTok in Australia when Home Secretary Clare O’Neil ordered an investigation in September into data security risks from some social media companies, including TikTok. .

“The security review will examine options for addressing data security risks as well as other national security concerns as they relate to social media companies,” a department spokesperson previously told The Epoch Times. .

“The results of the security review will be provided to the Home Secretary in early 2023.”

Daniel Teng contributed to this report.

Epoch Times staff in Sydney

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