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TikTok Exec Affirms the Platform Intercepts User Data in Australia

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read
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TikTok has faced several regulatory issues over the past few months, and it appears that these problems will continue. Recently, the United States Congress required TikTok's executives to address user data and privacy allegations.


For a long while, the major issue the social media company has faced is the allegations that they might be supplying user data to the Chinese government. The TikTok data privacy policy issue has made it to the limelight again after a top executive in the company revealed that some employees do have access to users' data.


According to Will Farrell, the head of data security at the social media company Tiktok, certain employees in China have access to the data of Australian users. However, Farrell said these users' data are only available to these employees on a "very strict basis."


Australia has followed in the footsteps of Canada, the US, and the UK by prohibiting using TikTok on government-owned devices. This decision was made due to concerns that the video-sharing platform may collaborate with the Chinese government.


Just recently, TikTok's top executives were questioned by Australian parliament members regarding the company's data privacy policy. The executives were grilled about allegations of Chinese government interference with user data.


Liberal senator and chair of the committee James Paterson led the questioning and asked TikTok's representatives some tough questions regarding their data privacy. One of the major highlights was when he asked Farrell how many times their employees in China had gotten access to Australian users' data.


The company's head of data security, Will Farrell, said their employees in China did get access to users' data. But he quickly added that the access to users' data was done under strict monitoring from different teams across the world. 

TikTok Defend Itself In Front of Australian Parliament 

During a hearing in front of the Australian parliament, Will Farrell defended the video social media platform by explaining how access to user data is managed within the company.

Tiktok CEO in the background, Tiktok logo

Farrell stated that employees in China who have access to this data are closely monitored and scrutinized. Before any employee can access a user's data, it must be approved by their manager and the database team at TikTok. Farrell added that if the user's data is being used for cross-border purposes, it will require the attention of their global security team in the United States.


"Employees can't get access without a clear justification and levels of approval," Farrell said in front of the parliament. 

TikTok Isn't a Threat to The Western Government — TikTok's Executive Says 

Some TikTok executives have come out to clear the name of their company over several data monitoring reports. In October 2022, TikTok's ANZ managing director, Lee Hunter, said some of the reports in the media were false. He said the reports of their US users' data monitoring and sharing with the Chinese government are false. 


"TikTok has never been used to 'target' any members of the US government, activists, public figures or journalists, nor do we serve them a different content experience than other users," Hunter said last year.