‘Spyware’: MP’s backflip after TikTok furore

Jordan Lane
A Ryde MP who previously was a harsh critic of social media app TikTok has backflipped on his stance. Picture: Facebook/ TikTok

A Ryde MP who previously was a harsh critic of social media app TikTok, and once called it “spyware,” has appeared to have backflipped on his stance.

Less than two years ago, Jordan Lane shared a short clip on Facebook that was captioned: “Reminder that TikTok is spyware”.

The video also included a number of alarm, detective, “hook and sickle” communist symbols and a Winnie the Pooh cartoon as well. The children’s figure is often used to mock Chinese Communist Party President Xi Jinping, with the character censored on Chinese social media app WeChat.

Jordan Lane TikTok
Ryde MP shared a video in 2020 calling TikTok ‘spyware’. Picture: Facebook

His comments came after then Labor mayor and now federal Bennelong MP Jerome Laxale was revealed to be using the app and has continued to do so.

At the time Mr Lane questioned whether the use of TikTok on Mr Laxale’s council-issued phone could allow the CCP to access sensitive information and told News Local it was a “massive weakness in our security protections”.

“Whether deliberately or inadvertently, none of us should be contributing to the rising threat of foreign influence,” he said.

However, in the past week, Mr Lane has made a resurgence on the app after sharing one video while campaigning for the state election.

While the app has been banned on government-issued phones since April this year, politicians and staff are allowed to access TikTok through their personal phones.

TikTok Jordan Lane
Mr Lane has now shared three videos to his TikTok account. Picture: TikTok
TikTok Jordan Lane
Including a video of Denistone station that has more than 45,000 views. Picture: TikTok

On Wednesday, a video of his electorate’s Denistone train station upgrade received more than 45,000 views a day after posting and appeared to be well-received by viewers.

When asked about his change of heart on the app, Mr Lane confirmed he did not use his app on a government-issued device.

“My team use a private device completely separate from any official network to engage with young tech-savvy members of our community,” he said.

“I have consistently argued that the app has no place on official government phones – whether federal, state or local – that could be receiving sensitive briefings or confidential correspondence, and government ministers should be upfront about this risk if they’re using taxpayer-funded phones for that purpose.”

The use of TikTok by government ministers has also been a talking point in the upper house during NSW parliament’s first sitting week.

Deputy Liberal leader Natalie Ward questioned whether Housing Minister Rose Jackson’s use of TikTok had Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council Penny Sharpe’s tick of approval.

“Given the comprehensive ban on the use of TikTok on all government-issued devices, does the Leader of the Government support the continued use of TikTok by her ministers?” Ms Ward asked.

Rose Jackson TikTok
Housing Minister Rose Jackson is also a fan of the app. Picture: TikTok
Rose Jackson TikTok
The upper house MP has more than 26,900 followers. Picture: TikTok

Ms Sharpe confirmed Ms Jackson’s use of the app was “perfectly within the rules”.

“As a general rule, I would say that most politicians are very bad at TikTok. The honourable Rose Jackson is not one of them,” Ms Sharpe responded.

“Plenty of others are using TikTok, and I hope they are taking the same care and following the advice that has been given to all members on interacting with it.

“No doubt there are significant issues, and that is why the rules have been put in place. These things are important and we should take them seriously.”

Ms Jackson has more than 26,000 followers, while the former NSW premier Dominic Perrottet also briefly used the app on the campaign trail, amassing just under 300 followers.

Premier Chris Minns also regularly shared videos on the app while campaigning but deleted his account in April.

However, government departments can use the app for “legitimate business reasons” like the sharing of public health and safety messaging.