Australian PM says no evidence to suggest TikTok should be banned

Slideshow ( 2 images )

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Australia has found no evidence showing it should restrict the popular short-video app TikTok, the country’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to ban the Chinese-owned app.

“We’ll obviously keep watching them, but there’s no evidence to suggest to us today that that is a step that is necessary,” Morrison told the Aspen Security Forum, which was held virtually via Zoom, on Tuesday.

Morrison said last month that his government was looking at TikTok, which has also fallen under U.S. scrutiny. U.S. officials have said TikTok poses a national risk because of the personal data it handles.

“There’s plenty of things on TikTok that are embarrassing enough in public,” Morrison joked.

Trump has said he would ban TikTok in the United States on Sept. 15 unless the company’s U.S. operations were sold. Microsoft Corp has said it is in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations.

“There’s nothing at this point that would suggest to us that security interests are being compromised or Australian citizens are being compromised,” Morrison said.

“But people should know 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,” he added.

Speaking earlier on Tuesday at the Aspen Security Forum, China’s U.S. Ambassador Cui Tiankai said there was no evidence that the company was sharing information with the Chinese government.

Trump said on Monday the U.S. government should get a “substantial portion” of the sale price of of TikTok. Reuters reported last week that some investors are valuing TikTok at about $50 billion, citing people familiar with the matter.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Richard Pullin