TikTok Is an ‘Attractive Database’ on ‘Young Australians’ for the Chinese Regime: Aussie MP

By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at daniel.teng@epochtimes.com.au.
May 30, 2020Updated: May 30, 2020

West Australian Member of Parliament Andrew Hastie has called the Beijing-backed music app TikTok an “attractive database” for the Chinese communist regime to collect data on the “habits, psychology, and personal preferences” of over one million young Australians.

The federal member for Canning’s comments follow recent legislative actions taken against TikTok in the United States, where it currently faces a trifecta of new laws aimed at curbing its influence in the country.

Hastie, who is also chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, told The Epoch Times on May 28, the United States believes TikTok is a “security threat.”

He said, “As our closest ally, I welcome the news that lawmakers there are considering these risks in light of their national and personal security.”

Epoch Times Photo
(Commonwealth of Australia)

Hastie said there were “serious concerns about how the data TikTok collects may be used.”

TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media apps in the world with over 800 million active users globally. Users can film, edit, upload, and share short 15-second videos of themselves overlayed with music.

The app is popular with Australian celebrities, however, it has carved out a large following from young Australians born after 1991, with over 1.2 million users per month.

TikTok is also built entirely on artificial intelligence developed by its Beijing-based parent company ByteDance, which can track and learn the personal preferences of users.

Hastie said, “to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), TikTok is an attractive database of the habits, psychology, personal preferences of over one million young Australians.”

“That is powerful intelligence to have on our future political, military, business, and social leaders.”

“Our country is right to be concerned about how their data might be used.” he said. “We should each consider our own position and that of our children.”

Hastie also raised concerns on the Chinese regime’s 2017 National Intelligence Law saying it compels “Chinese businesses to share information” with the regime.

The National Intelligence Law was introduced by current Chinese leader Xi Jinping and mandates local Chinese companies to “support, assist and cooperate with state intelligence work.”

A wide reading of the law means the regime has the power to access data and personal information stored by China-based companies if it is requested by the regime.

The law has been the root cause for major security concerns around Chinese technology, along with the military-civil fusion doctrine launched by Xi Jinping in 2016.

This doctrine says civilian technologies developed in China can be repurposed for military use if the regime needs it. The U.S. State Department has already expressed serious concerns about the doctrine.

The combined influence of the above has helped spark a pushback against Chinese technology companies such as Zoom, Huawei and WeChat.

The Australian Defence Force currently bans the use of TikTok and WeChat.

The U.S. federal government currently has TikTok in its sights, and the social media app is subject to three pending laws aimed at curbing the influence of Chinese apps in the country.

The laws will ban federal employees from downloading TikTok on government mobile phones and compel foreign developed apps to include a disclaimer in the software for users to see. The disclaimer will include information on the company that owns the apps and the jurisdiction it comes under.

TikTok is also subject to a pending investigation from the Committee on Foreign Investment.