Australia has become the latest country to announce a ban on the use of TikTokon government phones amid growing security concerns.
The app, owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance, has been banned on government phones in territories such as the UK, EU and USA and now in Australia, according to Reuters. This is due to a Chinese law which requires companies to give the country’s government user data upon request, which can include sensitive information including geolocational data and contracts. Countries worldwide are concerned that China could use this information to, “advance its political agenda, undermining Western security interests.”
With this ban, Reuters notes that all members of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence sharing network - Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and the European Commission - have taken steps to limit the use of TikTok on government devices.
Is government data safe?
In a statement, Australia’s attorney general Mark Dreyfus stated that the ban will come into effect, “as soon as practicable,” however exemptions may be made on a case-by-case basis with appropriate security measures in place.
TikTok has expressed disappointment in the decision, claiming that the ban is, “driven by politics, not by fact.” The company has repeatedly denied that it shares information with the Chinese Communist Party, with CEO Shou Zi Chew testifying before the US Congress last month that the social media app has no connections with the Chinese government.
In a statement, TikTok’s Australia and New Zealand general manager Lee Hunter 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.”
In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, TikTok general counsel Erich Anderson stated that ByteDance is working on technology which would, “make it physically impossible for any government, including the Chinese government, to access US user data.”
We listed ByteDance as one of the top 50 mobile game makers of 2022.