Australia bans TikTok on government devices
SYDNEY — The Australian government said on Tuesday it would remove TikTok from all federal government-owned devices, following many other countries in the West in barring the Chinese-owned video app over security concerns.
The ban underscores growing worries that China’s government could use the Beijing-based company, owned by ByteDance Ltd, to harvest users’ data to advance its political agenda, undermining Western security interests.
The ban will come into effect “as soon as practicable”, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement, adding that exemptions would only be granted on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate security measures in place.
With Australia’s ban, all members of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network – which consists of Australia, Canada, the United States, Britain and New Zealand – have banned the app from government devices. France, Belgium and the European Commission have announced similar bans.
The Australian newspaper late on Monday reported Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had agreed to a government-wide ban on the use of TikTok after the completion of a review by the Home Affairs department.
TikTok and the prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Victoria state will also ban the video app from government phones, The Age newspaper reported, citing a state government official.
Tiktok Australia general manager Lee Hunter was quoted by The Age as saying the company was disappointed to learn of the ban through the media “despite our repeated offers to engage with government constructively about this policy”.
“We stress that there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok is in any way a security risk to Australians and should not be treated differently to other social media platforms,” he was quoted as saying.