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Australia says it found no evidence to suggest a TikTok ban is necessary

Australia has completed its security probe into TikTok and found no evidence of data misuse to warrant a ban. The country’s security agencies concluded that at this stage, the short-form video platform doesn’t pose any national security concerns, according to Reuters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the country will “keep watching” the China-based app but “there’s no evidence to suggest today that that is a step that is necessary.”

“There’s nothing at this point that would suggest to us that security interests are being compromised or Australian citizens are being compromised,” Morrison told the Aspen Security Forum on Tuesday, August 4.

Morrison also warned citizens to be aware of the fact that the “line connects right back to China” and they should “exercise their own judgment about whether they should participate in those things or not.”

Australia launched an official investigation into the potential security threats posed by TikTok and several other China-based platforms such as WeChat last month. The action was taken soon after India had banned dozens of Chinese services including TikTok. However, similarly to the United States, TikTok use will remain blocked on the Australian Defense Force’s devices.

Owned by the Chinese startup, Bytedance, TikTok is in the middle of negotiating a deal with Microsoft in an attempt to escape a ban from the United States. If the sale goes through, TikTok’s operations in four countries — United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada — will be acquired by the Redmond, Seattle-based software giant. It remains unclear, at the moment, whether the announcement of this potential deal had any role to play in Australia’s security review.

“Microsoft will move quickly to pursue discussions with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, in a matter of weeks, and in any event completing these discussions no later than September 15, 2020,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post on Sunday, August 2. “During this process, Microsoft looks forward to continuing dialogue with the United States government, including with the President.”

Unlike Australia, the Trump administration hasn’t explicitly commented yet on the results of its security probe into TikTok that it launched in November.

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