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Greens Senator David Shoebridge calls on major parties to show courage on Temu

REMY VARGA
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Greens NSW Senator David Shoebridge has called on the major parties to show leadership on Temu.
Greens NSW Senator David Shoebridge has called on the major parties to show leadership on Temu. Credit: The Nightly

Greens NSW Senator David Shoebridge has called on the major parties to show leadership and have the courage to discuss data security concerns linked to Chinese e-commerce platform Temu.

His comments come after the Albanese Labor government and the federal opposition refused to disclose whether any of their members had used the online marketplace.

Senator Shoebridge, who has admitted to purchasing a set of air fryer cooking liners on Temu before deleting the application, said the e-commerce platform highlighted privacy concerns associated with the internet.

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“The critical need is for Parliament to show some leadership on protecting people’s privacy regardless of the platform,” said Senator Shoebridge, who is also the Greens’ Digital Rights spokesperson.

“Temu highlights these data and security concerns and of course the two old parties should at least have the courage to talk about it.”

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Greens NSW Senator David Shoebridge has called on the major parties to show leadership. Credit: News Corp Australia

Temu operates as an online marketplace connecting sellers and consumers and has a network of about 80,000 vendors that are largely based in China.

Security experts have raised concerns over Temu as China’s national security laws require companies to cooperate with Chinese Communist Party security agencies while prohibiting them from publicly disclosing whether they have accessed the data.

US lawmakers have also warned there was an “extremely high risk” products sold by Temu could have been made with or linked to forced labour.

The Federal Government has banned bureaucrats and politicians from having Tiktok on government-issued devices due to the security risk from the breadth of data it can access but has not moved on any other apps.

Senator Shoebridge said he downloaded Temu after being bombarded by ads on social media but deleted the application upon learning of the data security concerns and lack of supply chain safeguards.

When asked if the government should ban Temu like TikTok, Senator Shoebridge said online regulation should focus on privacy risks instead of from which country they are based.

“Rather than playing a geopolitical game of whack a mole where only applications based in some countries are sanctioned, regulation should focus on real privacy risks to the community for all platforms regardless of where they are based,” he said.

The Home Affairs Department is developing a framework to address “vendor-based national security risks” that will go to the Government for consideration in the second half of 2024 and has brought forward a review of the data broker ecosystem.

Temu has launched an aggressive advertising campaign across social media platforms including Facebook and TikTok as cost of living pressures push consumers towards bargain options and retail spending falls in Australia.

The discount marketplace sells consumer products at aggressively discounted prices such as handheld vacuum cleaners for $12.31 and is believed to be trying to imitate the rise of Chinese fast fashion brand Shein.

According to Temu’s data security policy, the e-commerce platform only collects the minimum amount of information necessary to run the app, including managing and completing orders.

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