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TikTok Banned from Government Devices in Australia

TikTok Banned from Government Devices in Australia

Australia has officially implemented a ban on the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from federal government devices, making it the last of the “Five Eyes” security partners to take such a step. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement that the ban would be imposed based on advice from intelligence and security agencies and would come into effect “as soon as feasible”.

TikTok, owned by the Chinese technology company Bytedance, has long maintained that it does not share data with the Chinese government, however, security partners of the country including the United States, Canada, Britain and New Zealand have already taken similar steps against the app.

The company is trying to further distance itself from Chinese influence by committing to project to store U.S. user data in Texas, in an effort to put it out of reach to China. Despite this, the European Commission and European Council have followed with their own bans, and even at the individual level, some members of U.S. Congress have been advocating an outright ban.

India also had a similar ban in 2020, really pushing hard against Chinese Privacy issues, with their ban coming quickly after the border clash between Indian and Chinese troops that left 20 people dead. Notably, 34 other Chinese apps including WeChat were also included in the Indian ban.

Bytedance and TikTok have denied collecting more user data than other social networks and insist that the app is managed independently. However, this has failed to keep security partners of the world from implementing their own bans on the app, with most of the U.S. states also committing to such a step.

On the other hand, China is lashing out at the United States for its ban, arguing that it is an abuse of state power and that it suppresses companies from other countries.

Mark Dreyfus is an Australian politician and a member of the Labour Party in the House of Representatives. Before being elected to the seat of Isaacs in 2007, Dreyfus practiced as a barrister and worked in both the Commonwealth and Victorian governments. Over his career he held various positions, including Attorney-General, Minister for Public Service and Minister for Emergency Management.

Bytedance is a Chinese tech company founded in 2012 and mainly known for its short-form video sharing platform TikTok. After a dramatic IPO filing that was discovered to be false, the company gradually began to release its own products. Among them is Toutiao, a content aggregation platform that relies on AI and user behavior; Xigua Video, a Chinese vertical video-sharing platform; and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. The release of these apps has placed the company — and its related apps — in the spotlight.