Australia Bans TikTok On Government Devices

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Australia has announced that it banned TikTok on Tuesday on all federal government-owned devices due to security concerns. Australia has become the latest U.S.-allied country to take a stand against the Chinese-owned social media app.

The ban typifies the worries that the Beijing-based company owned by ByteDance could be used by China to harvest users’ data to push its political agenda and override Western security interests.

This also risks the renewed diplomatic tie between Australia and its largest trading partner which began when Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took office in May as the head of a labor government.

The company which commented on the Australian government’s decision expressed its disappointment and said it was a decision “driven by politics, not by the fact”.

The ban will take effect “as soon as practicable”, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus added in a statement, and that exemptions will only be given on a case-by-case basis and with the appropriate measures put in place.

With the recent news of the Australia ban on TikTok on government-owned devices,  all members of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network which includes Australia, Canada, the United States, Britain, and New Zealand, have also banned the app from their government-owned devices, with France, Belgium and the European Commission have also joined in the ban.

Meanwhile, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew had earlier shared in his testimony before the U.S congress last month, repeatedly denying that TikTok app shares data or is connected to the Chinese Community Party.

TikTok’s Australia and New Zealand General Manager Lee Hunter also added that TikTok should not be the only app singled out.

Hunter said in a statement “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,”

While the Australian newspaper also on Monday reported Albanese had also agreed to the ban after its review by the Home Affairs department. With Dreyfus confirmed that the federal government had also received a “Review into Foreign Interference through Social Media Applications” report and that its recommendations were still under consideration.

The ban is coming after Australian and Chinese officials reached an agreement to normalize trade as the World Trade Organization prepares to disclose findings into an Australian complaint on barley tariffs.

The trade Minister Don Farrell shared with Sky News “Things are going well, but of course, it’ll take some time to turn this ship around,” speaking about the prospects of improving trade relations.

In 2018 also, Australia banned China’s Huawei from providing equipment during the launching of its 5G network, which annoyed China. The ties grew sour when Canberra called for an independent investigation into the origin of Covid-19.

While China retaliated by imposing tariffs on Australian commodities.

Although, Australian lawmakers can still use TikTok on their personal phones but some which include federal Government Services Minister Bill Shorten and Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews, have all agreed to delete their accounts on the app.

A spokesperson speaking to Reuters disclosed that Victoria state also announced that it would also ban the app on state government-owned phones.

TikTok is also under intense pressure over the influence of China on the app and, its influence on children.

TikTok also disclosed that President Biden’s administration demanded that Chinese owners divest their stakes or prepare for a U.S. ban.