In today’s allegations, we have the most popular Beijing-based lip-syncing application TikTok in the limelight, which has been accused of spying and providing user data to the Chinese Communist Party. An MP has been pushing for the app to be banned, as reported by the Herald Sun.
This video-sharing app, formerly named Musical.ly, has become quite famous with the emergence of Covid-19 in our lives. The app united people stuck at their homes with communities within their own country and the world. This further led to monetization within the app, and this entertainment application soon became a way of earning for the entire TikTok community.
But it actually sucks to know that the app is more than it seems. The app has now been alleged to collect and store user data for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The statement by the Australian PM Scott Morrison at the beginning of the month stated that they are looking closely into TikTok. This statement raised concern about TikTok within Australia along with the world.
China denies all allegations over data sharing.
The General Manager of TikTok, Lee Hunter, had previously denied all accusations at the beginning of July over users’ data sharing in Australia with China.
Australian Labor Party Senator Jenny McAllister claimed that there had been credible reports about TikTok that it actually steals more data than users know about without consent. The claims further justified that the application collects data that the users would be uncomfortable knowing when they learn about it.
These certain accusations made Lee Hunter claim that no information sharing occurs to any foreign government or country. People should consider these accusations fake and not reality.
What information is being collected from Australians?
Every application requires access to some essential information that it stores from users. Just like that, TikTok tends to do the same. When you install the TikTok application, it asks you to grant it access to your camera, microphone, address book, and WiFi connection. Besides that, TikTok also collects users’ location.
Due to its features, TikTok requires access to your entire library of content too, as it allows you to edit videos and film new ones along with the microphone. But, the location tracking and storing that information for your own benefit is a giveaway.
Undoubtedly, TikTok has been under the shade, or you can say, the victim of a backlash before.
Where is the data of Australians being stored by TikTok?
With rumors and accusations becoming a part of TikTok’s routine, it has been clearly mentioned on their official website that “We store all TikTok US user data in the United States, with backup redundancy in Singapore. Our data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of our data is subject to Chinese law.”
Despite this policy, there are high chances of data being sent to the servers in China. Speaking hypothetically, this could allow China to access biometric data and identify people through facial recognition.
Would banning TikTok be the ultimate solution in Australia?
Banning TikTok in Australia isn’t as simple as it seems. The government might request Google and Apple to remove the TikTok app from their App Stores for the Australian marketplaces. However, users would still be able to download it through third-party websites or with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that works in Australia. One can also use free VPNs that work in Australia instead of the paid ones.
What we’re trying to say is, banning the platform is not the best solution. If users continue to use TikTok through any loopholes, citizen data will continue to be collected by TikTok.
China has a history of maliciously harvesting data. It’s no surprise that TikTok, the most trending viral social media platform owned by China, is also collecting massive amounts of user data. For Australians that are already dealing with increased surveillance from their own government, this is not something any Aussie would be too happy to hear.
Previously, countries like India had also banned TikTok. Are Australia and the US next to take this step? While what data TikTok collects from its users is not in anyone’s hands to control, Australians can opt for VPNs to secure their online privacy in other aspects of life.