Federal politicians have formally asked TikTok’s Aussie representatives to answer some burning questions about the social media app, amid mounting scrutiny over its data collection and security practices.
The Senate Select Committee On Foreign Interference Through Social Media today revealed that folks from TikTok’s Australian arm have been invited to speak at a public hearing on Friday, August 21.
Members of the committee, which has been asked to determine if any major social media platforms pose a risk to Australia’s democratic system, have previously raised concerns about TikTok’s practices.
Speaking to The Guardian earlier this month, the committee’s deputy chair, Liberal senator Jim Molan, cited “claims by people who have reverse-engineered TikTok that it’s a data collection service disguised as social media.”
TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, and its harsher critics, including Nationals MP George Christensen, have accused it of being “used and abused” by the Chinese Government.
Those claims have been flat-out denied by TikTok Australia’s general manager Lee Hunter, who told NewsCorp that, “TikTok does not share information of our users in Australia with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government, and would not do so if asked.”
He added that TikTok reps would always “welcome the opportunity” to sit down with Aussie lawmakers. It’s yet to be seen if TikTok Australia takes the committee up on that invitation, though.
Local commentary about the app’s security, plus scrutiny in the US and India’s decision to ban it outright, led some Australia TikTok users to believe a ban was imminent.
But TikTok, which has tallied some 1.6 million Australian users, is still available for download in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Reps from Facebook, Twitter and Google have been invited to a second public hearing in September.Image: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images