Australian opposition leader pushes for US-style TikTok ban

Australia TikTok

The leader of Australia's opposition party has called on the government to implement a US-style blanket ban on Chinese social media platform TikTok.

Following a bill that was passed by the US Congress’s lower house to restrict TikTok this week, under which its China-based parent company ByteDance could either be prohibited from operating in the North American country or be forced to sell the platform, Australian opposition leader Peter Dutton has called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to implement something similar.

ByteDance’s alleged ties with the Chinese Communist Party have instigated the US to start restricting the platform on national security grounds.

For his part, Albanese rejected suggestions that Australia would follow the US as foreign powers did not determine his government's national policy.

Speaking to Sky News Australia’s The Kenny Report on Thursday, Dutton argued that TikTok should be banned because of its “exploitative” presence on the internet.

“If photos of young kids are being scraped from their accounts and stored by a third party, whether it’s a country or state actor or whether it’s an organised crime group, then the prime minister has to act,” Mr Dutton said.

“If data is being scraped by the terabytes off these accounts and young people are being exposed to extortion at some point, or just their personal data being collected, its not a safe platform.

Dutton claimed the Albanese's rejection of an Australian TikTok ban indicates weak leadership and the prime minister not having the “country’s best interests” at heart.

“The prime minister has a responsibility to act… if the United States is offering their government the same advice as our intelligence agencies are offering here, I just think the prime minister needs to be very clear about what steps he’s going to take to protect kids online and to make sure they’re not vulnerable and being exposed to theft of that information.”

“People should be able to exchange intimate messages or photos in a safe way and that’s what people think they’ve signed up to.”

The opposition has consistently raised concerns of Chinese espionage activities in Australia, with Shadow cyber security minister James Paterson frequently attacking ByteDance’s alleged privacy breaches, accusing the Chinese tech conglomerate of spying on politicians, journalists, and diplomats.

In December, Australia’s privacy watchdog - Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) - launched a probe to determine whether the social media platform had violated privacy laws after it was found to be using tracking pixels to collect users’ data without consent, Sky News reported.

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