Heather du Plessis-Allan: Do we have anything to fear with TikTok?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 5 Aug 2020, 5:03PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Do we have anything to fear with TikTok?

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wed, 5 Aug 2020, 5:03PM

It seems obvious the TikTok battle has arrived in New Zealand. 

We now have reports that MPs and parliamentary staffers have been advised to delete the app from their phones because it poses "significant privacy and security risks". 

So should the rest of us do the same thing?  Delete it from our phones?  Delete it from our kids’ phones? 

Well, this ultimately comes down to whether you think TikTok is any more of a threat to you than all the other social media apps you’re using. 

The concern about TikTok is that it’s taking your data – or your kids’ data, because let’s honest, most of us are too old for this nonsense – and passing it on to someone else. 

In this case, the someone else is the Chinese Government.  I’m not sure there’s proof of this by the way.  These are just allegations. 

But what do we think all the other apps are doing with our information?  If you’re signing up for a free app, it’s not free.  You’re paying with something and usually it’s your data. 

So what do you think Facebook et al are doing with that information?  They’re giving it to someone else. The most obvious example of this is the Cambridge Analytica scandal where Facebook data was harvested for election campaigns in the US. 

Truth is, TikTok is just the latest Chinese-owned company caught up in this trade war between Donald Trump and China.  It’s the new Huawei.  The US has got what it wanted with Huawei, which is that all of the Five Eyes countries have either outright - or effectively - banned it, so it’s moved on to something new. 

Now, this thing is probably going to resolve itself shortly.  Donald Trump has set a deadline for TikTok to find a US buyer or it’ll be banned from the US altogether. That deadline is 15 September.  The most likely buyer is Microsoft which is currently talking to TikTok. 

 Which is better?  China or Microsoft owning TikTok and the data you put into it?  Because Microsoft is the company that, for 14 years, exposed the customer records of 250 million of its customers to anyone who stumbled across it online. 

 

So, should you be worried about TikTok like Donald Trump wants you to be?  Probably no more worried than you are about Facebook or Microsoft.