Following concerns over security risks associated with Chinese-owned video app TikTok, Australia has banned its use on government devices.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced the move after receiving advice from intelligence and security agencies. This makes Australia the latest country to impose restrictions on TikTok, after the US, France, Canada, and New Zealand.
Western officials have issued warnings that China may utilize the video-sharing app, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, to spy on users and influence public discourse, leading to the ban.
TikTok refutes allegations of posing a security threat and states that it has never shared data with the Chinese government nor would it do so.
According to Lee Hunter, TikTok’s general manager in Australia and New Zealand, the decision to ban the app on government devices is “driven by politics” and the company is “extremely disappointed”.
Hunter stated that all businesses should be treated fairly regardless of their country of origin and that Australian users deserve a government that makes decisions based on facts.
The ban will be implemented “as soon as practicable,” with exemptions allowed on a case-by-case basis with security precautions.
TikTok has been under scrutiny from governments and privacy advocates over concerns that it could compromise user privacy and even be used for espionage. Governments have banned the app on government devices, while in the US, lawmakers have proposed legislation that would force the app’s owner, ByteDance, to sell it or face a ban.
TikTok has repeatedly denied that it shares data with the Chinese government and has emphasized its commitment to protecting user data. Nonetheless, the controversy around the app’s privacy practices continues to make headlines and has led to calls for greater transparency and accountability from social media companies.