'Tiktok, WeChat can be Australia's biggest national security threat'

'Tiktok, WeChat can be Australia's biggest national security threat'

Committee looking into use of social media as a means of foreign interference puts apps on notice

By Anadolu staff

ANKARA (AA) – Social media applications TikTok and WeChat can be Australia's biggest national security threat, a committee looking into the use of social media as a means of foreign interference in the country said in its findings.

The wide-ranging report has made 17 recommendations that include introducing new regulations to ensure all platforms operate under transparency requirements or be banned from use across the country, Australia Broadcasting Company reported on Tuesday.

It stated that foreign interference is Australia's "principal national security threat" and "emerging technologies" such as artificial intelligence are making the ability to compromise its security even easier.

The committee appears to be particularly concerned by the national security threat posed by social media platforms such as TikTok and WeChat.

The parent companies of both apps ByteDance and Tencent, have headquarters in and are run out of China.

"China's 2017 National Intelligence Law means the Chinese government can require these social media companies to secretly cooperate with Chinese intelligence agencies," the report said.

"In the case of TikTok, the committee heard that its China-based employees can and have accessed Australian user data, and can manipulate content algorithms — but TikTok cannot tell us how often this data is accessed despite initially suggesting that this information was logged," it added

Earlier this year, Canberra banned TikTok on government devices following fears the app's security was compromised, and the platform could be used for foreign interference by China.

The committee's other recommendation is to also ban WeChat on government devices: "Given it poses similar data security and foreign interference risks."

It also suggested the ban on TikTok on government devices should extend to contractors' devices who are working on government projects — contractors such as Ernst and Young, PWC, and Deloitte could fall under that umbrella.

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