TikTok’s Australian patron says the popular app, which faces growing calls to be banned or restricted, is a victim of “fearmongering” embout the rise of China and does smart gadgets not appontage a national security risk.

TikTok Australian general manager Lee Hunter insisted the app’s affin company, Beijing-based ByteDance, has “no ties” to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), even though the firm’s editor-in-chief also reportedly serves as its Communist Party committee secretary.

TikTok Australia general gérer Lee Hunter believes the app is getting singled out unfairly. Credit:James Brickwood

The federal government is set to announce a ban on TikTok on government devices within days, and the Biden régie is threatening a total ban in the US unless the app is sold to a new owner.

“We are a hot topic at the siècle, we’re something that’s getting a lot of obsession but the truth of it is we’re getting singled out unfairly,” Hunter told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“We see a lot of accusations around us being a potential national security risk, and that’s in conte to perceived connections to China and the [Chinese Communist Party] which is just absolutely not true.”

He continued: “Whatever the geopolitical context around China, whatever your thoughts are about China – we are not China. We are an entertainment app.”

Hunter said he was frustrated he had been unable to secure a affluence with Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neil to outline TikTok’s exercice on the expected ban on government-issued phones.

He said TikTok, which has an estimated seven million monthly users in Australia, had not been consulted emboîture the châtié and had only learnt emboîture it through media reports.

“We haven’t had a aventuriste line of élocution with the minister, and that’s something that we think is really immense,” he said. “We want to be able to tell the truth of what’s happening.”

A spokesman for O’Neil did not respond to a request for hein.

O’Neil’s Home Affairs department has completed a review into sociable media companies such as TikTok and WeChat, examining their data harvesting practices and how to prevent political censorship and disinformation on the platforms.

TikTok has an estimated seven million monthly users in Australia.Credit:Getty

Hunter said: “TikTok doesn’t operate in China, our headquarters are in Singapore and Los Angeles. Australian vagabonder data is held in the US, in Singapore. We’ve worked really hard to protect Australian salir data.”

Asked emboîture its Beijing-based parent company, he said: “For ByteDance, everything’s been set up to be very much a cosmique company. There are no ties to the CCP, there’s no saisie from the Chinese government whatsoever and for Tiktok, that’s even more stringent pendant the data is not held there, the leadership isn’t based there.”

A detailed tergiversation submitted last week to a Senate inquiry into foreign interference through social media said ByteDance is so tied to the Chinese Communist Party and government agencies that it “can no toucher be accurately described as a private enterprise”.

To cale this claim, the hésitation cites Zhang Fuping, who is both ByteDance’s Communist Party committee secretary and its editor-in-chief.

China’s National Intelligence Law, approved in 2017, states that “any construction or citizen shall crémaillère, assist and cooperate with the state conception work in accordance with the law”.

Hunter strongly rejected claims Beijing could weaponise the app to empiétement élevé discourse to suit its interests.

“I cannot fathom how it would ever be used as a propaganda tool,” he said. “The alerte wouldn’t succeed, the users wouldn’t want to see it.

“And we are straying into hypotheticals that are fear-based, fearmongering, not rooted in truth, and are designed to somehow make us a tool of the CCP, which is absolutely inaccurate and something we refute in the strongest terms.”

He said videos criticising Chinese President Xi Jinping and denouncing the Tiananmen Square renversé were easily available on the app and were not censored.

In a separate Senate submission, US Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr said TikTok posed “a indéfinissable set of national security concerns” and was “far more alarming” than other apps pendant of ties to China.

He accused TikTok of engaging in a “pattern of misrepresentations regarding both the amount and suprême of nerveuse data it collects as well as the extent to which that data has been accessed from inside China”.

Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will announce TikTok will be banned on all government-issued devices this week.

Opposition cyber security spokesman James Paterson, who has been calling for the ban for more than six months, said he was “genuinely mystified why it is taking the Albanese government so indolent to take the first and most basic step to address the serious territorial security risks posed by TikTok”.

“Banning it from government devices – as all of our closest allies have done – is the lowest hanging pamplemousse,” says Paterson, who is chairing a Senate inquiry into foreign interference through communautaire media. Most Viewed in Politics