The Australian government is reportedly scrutinising TikTok for any risks it may pose to users from around potential foreign interference and data privacy issues.
According to a Reuters report, offices of both the Home Affairs and Attorney-General are discussing TikTok’s operations just weeks after the popular Chinese-owned social media platform opened offices in the country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government was “having a good look” at TikTok, which has also fallen under U.S. scrutiny for “national security risks”. “If we consider there is a need to take further action than we are taking now, then I can tell you we won’t be shy about it,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
Australia’s scrutiny comes as TikTok has come under fire in multiple markets in recent weeks, over national security issues over accusations of links to the Chinese state and concerns around data privacy.
India banned TikTok along with 58 other Chinese apps in a retaliatory move after fatal border clashes along the disputed Sino-Indian border in mid-June. India's Ministry of Information Technology said the ban was put in place after receiving “many complaints from various sources” about apps that were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorised manner”.
Tiktok owner ByteDance has invested more than US$1 billion to build its vast Indian user base, and now faces losses of as much as US$6 billion. The India market accounts for 611 million of the video-sharing platform’s 2 billion-strong user base.
In South Korea, the Korea Communications Commission, recently fined the company 186m won (US$155,485) for collecting data of children under 14 years old without the consent of legal guardians. In an investigation which began last year, the media regulator found that more than 6,000 records involving children were collected over six months, violating local privacy laws. The Chinese firm also failed to inform users that personal data was transferred overseas.
In the United States, the Trump administration is considering banning Chinese social media applications including TikTok, from being used in the country – a move that could be confirmed within weeks according to reports. Distrust in the app stems back to November 2019, when a national security review was launched over ByteDance US$1 billion acquisition of U.S. social media app Musical.ly.
The potential loss of the U.S. market and its 30 million MAUs, after the ban in India, would deal another huge blow to TikTok and its growth ambitions. ByteDance earned US$5.6 billion in revenue in the first quarter of 2020 through ad sales mostly from Douyin, its mainland China app.
In early July, the company had launched a new advertising platform focused on small businesses. The self-serve ad platform, which had previously been in beta testing, will include a music library and video-editing tools to help brands make ads that match the style of TikTok videos.
However, it remains to be seen how severely adspend on the platform will be affected, given the uncertainty of its status in multiple markets. The platform will face difficulties attracting advertisers given the on-going controversies and concerns around brand-safe content. It halted operations in Hong Kong, after China imposed a new security law on the city, raising concerns of official oversight of social media.
Sourced from Reuters, BBC, Forbes, Politico, Fortune