In a move aimed at tightening Australia to Ban TikTok for cybersecurity, the federal government has announced a ban on the use of TikTok on government devices from Tuesday. The decision comes amid concerns that the popular social media app poses a risk to national security and user privacy.
TikTok, owned by Chinese technology firm ByteDance, has faced scrutiny from governments worldwide over allegations that it shares user data with the Chinese government. The app has also been blamed for transferring content with China’s state.
In a statement issued, the Australian government confirmed that it had “identified a potential security risk associated with the use of TikTok on government devices.” The report noted that “the app may be subject to extrajudicial directions from the Chinese Government that could compel TikTok to share Australians’ data with foreign entities.”
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The statement also cited the recent decision by the US government to ban the app on government-issued devices. In August 2020, US President Donald Trump signed an administrative demand restricting TikTok and WeChat, another Chinese-owned app, over national security concerns. A US court later blocked the order, but the Biden administration has continued to scrutinize the app’s handling of user data.
The Australian government’s ban on TikTok will apply to all government-issued devices, including smartphones and tablets.
The prohibition does not involve individual devices or members of the public using TikTok. However, the government has warned that individuals should be aware of the potential risks associated with using the app, including the possibility that their data could be shared with foreign entities.
The move has been welcomed by cybersecurity experts, who have long warned of the risks associated with Chinese-owned apps. In recent years, several apps have been banned or heavily restricted in Australia over security concerns, including the popular messaging app WeChat, which is blocked by the Australian military.
The Australian government’s decision to ban TikTok on government devices is just the latest in a series of actions governments worldwide took to address the perceived threat posed by Chinese technology firms. In addition to the US ban on TikTok and WeChat, India has also banned TikTok and several other Chinese apps. At the same time, the UK has introduced measures to restrict the use of Chinese technology in its telecommunications network.
The ban is also likely to add to the expanding uncertainties between Australia and China. The two countries have been engaged in a diplomatic standoff in recent years, with Australia increasingly vocal in its criticism of China’s human rights record and its growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
The ban on TikTok is unlikely to significantly impact the app’s popularity in Australia, where it has become one of the most popular social media platforms among young people. However, it is likely further to fuel concerns about the app’s security and privacy and may prompt other organizations to reconsider their use of the app.
The Australian government has encouraged individuals and organizations to exercise caution when using apps owned by foreign entities, particularly those with links to countries that do not share Australia’s democratic values and principles.
The ban on TikTok is a reminder of the significance of cybersecurity in a growing digital world. As the use of technology becomes more widespread, individuals and organizations must take steps to protect their data and privacy and ensure that they are not inadvertently exposing themselves to security risks.