The Guardian • Issue #2052


Hypocrisy and opportunism

I work at the University of Melbourne in a teaching role. I saw your article on TikTok (“US: Tik Tok, Tik Tok – Countdown to Cold War,” Guardian 17th April page 11.).

This reminded me of the hypocritical campaign against TikTok in Australia. This popular app for short videos is being demonised as part of a general campaign of demonising anything to do with China.

One thing which is not reported by Australian media is this: Melbourne University has banned its staff from using SurveyMonkey.

For anyone who doesn’t know, SurveyMonkey is a popular and useful website on which anyone can make a survey and collate results quickly. It’s useful for all sorts of people, and it’s very popular with teachers.

We have been told not to use it because of privacy concerns. SurveyMonkey is an American product, and the university has to protect the privacy of its students. Since the data entered in the surveys ends up in the US, there’s no way the university can guarantee protection of students’ private information.

Of course, this fact does not mean TikTok is not doing anything nefarious with user data, but it points to the hypocrisy of the campaign to expel TikTok from devices.

If Sinophobes like James Paterson were really worried about the private data of Australians and possible misuse, they would be putting up protections against large American corporations. They aren’t doing that, so their focus on TikTok is revealed as rank bigotry and opportunism.

Rodrigo Cotier

Middle Park

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