Australia Joins Other ‘Five Eyes’ Partners in Banning TikTok on Government Devices
The Australian government has announced that it will ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from its federal government’s devices, following similar moves by other members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing partners. The United States, Canada, Britain and New Zealand have all previously banned the app from official devices due to concerns over data privacy and security. The Australian Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus, said in a statement on Tuesday that the ban would come into effect “as soon as practicable” based on intelligence and security agencies’ advice. The Australian government’s decision comes despite TikTok’s insistence that it does not share data with the Chinese government and its ongoing project to store US user data in Texas.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese technology company Bytedance, has also disputed accusations that it collects more user data than other social media companies and insists that it is run independently by its own management. However, the European Parliament, European Commission and the EU Council have all imposed bans on TikTok on staff devices, with politicians and staff advised to remove the app from their personal devices under the European Parliament’s ban. Ireland, which is TikTok’s lead European regulator, is also facing scrutiny over allowing the app on official devices following the bans by the European Commission and other governments.
India imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including the messaging app WeChat, in 2020 over privacy and security concerns. The ban came shortly after a clash between Indian and Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border killed 20 Indian soldiers and injured dozens. In early March, the US gave government agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems, although the ban only applies to government devices. Some US politicians are advocating for an outright ban on the app, however, more than half of the 50 US states have already banned it from official devices, as have Congress and the US armed forces.
China has criticised the US ban on TikTok, accusing the country of abusing its power and suppressing companies from other countries. Despite TikTok’s efforts to distance itself from the Chinese government and reassure users of its commitment to data privacy and security, the app continues to face scrutiny and bans in several countries. The Australian government’s decision to ban TikTok on official devices is the latest example of growing concerns over the app’s data practices and its links to China.