TikTok Australia head says app is not a ‘national security risk’ after US Senate passes bill to force sale

The general manager, global business solutions, for TikTok Australia, Brett Armstrong, has responded to recent news from the US that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance will be forced to either sell off the social media platform to an American-owned company, or face a bill in the States.

Per the Sydney Morning Herald, the bill passed the US Senate 79-18 on Wednesday, and will now go to President Joe Biden, who has already indicated he will sign it as soon as it lands on his desk.

ByteDance now has just nine months to sell TikTok to an American company, with a three-month extension in play should a deal be pending. This forced sale acts to prevent the possibility of the Chinese government strongarming ByteDance into giving up sensitive information about US citizens.

“Congress is not acting to punish ByteDance, TikTok or any other individual company,” Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell said.

“Congress is acting to prevent foreign adversaries from conducting espionage, surveillance, maligned operations, harming vulnerable Americans, our servicemen and women, and our US government personnel.”

Armstrong, who leads TikTok’s Australian business, said: “TikTok is a platform that is loved by over 8.5 million Australians and 350,000 Australian businesses, with a recent independent study by Oxford Economics finding that we contribute $1.1b and 13,000 jobs to the Australian economy.

“There is zero evidence suggesting that TikTok is in any way a national security risk, and we welcome the Prime Minister’s recent comments that his Government has no plans to ban us.”

Of course, as Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, pointed out, “This is the beginning, not the end of this long process,” with the Chinese company preparing a lawsuit to block the legislation.

“At the stage that the bill is signed, we will move to the courts for a legal challenge,” Beckerman warned.


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