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Australia and Other Countries to Ban TikTok on Government-Owned Devices

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On Tuesday, Australian government presented its decision to remove TikTok from all federal government-owned devices. Thus, becoming the latest U.S. allied nation to pledge action against the Beijing-based company. This step is taken over growing security concerns.

Reason

It is being feared that the Chinese government would use TikTok to harvest users’ data to strategize its political agenda, undermining the security interests of the western countries.

It is being reported in the Australian newspaper that Albanese agreed to the ban after a review submitted by the Home Affairs department. Dreyfus also confirmed the receipt of “Review into Foreign Interference through Social Media Applications” report. Its recommendations are kept under consideration.

Risk of tension

However, it may risk renewing of diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Canberra that have been eased a little bit since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese leading the Labor government resumed office in May.

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Effective from

Mark Dreyfus, Attorney-General, said that the ban will be effective “as soon as possible” in a statement. There would be exemption on a case-to-case basis with appropriate security measures.

Australia and Other Countries to Ban TikTok on Government 1

Other countries

Along with Australia, other members of the Five-Eyes intelligence-sharing network have banned the app as well from all government devices. The network consists of Australia, United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Britain. The European Commission, Belgium and France announced similar bans.

Decisions

Although lawmakers can still use the app on their personal devices but several of them including Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews and federal Government Services Minister Bill Shorten have decided to delete their accounts from TikTok. A government spokesperson told Reuters that Victoria would ban the app on state government-owned devices as well.

TikTok says

TikTok is understandably disappointed with the decision, calling it “driven by politics, not by fact”. Lee Hunter, General Manager of TikTok’s New Zealand and Australia division, said, “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.” 

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TikTok is under pressure as more nations are banning it on government-owned devices. It is only last month that U.S. lawmakers grilled Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, during a testimony before Congress about the influence of China over the platform and its influence on kids. TikTok said the administration led by U.S. President Joe Biden demanded its Chinese owners to divest their states or face a potential ban in the countr

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