The Australian government has banned social media video app TikTok from politicians and public servants’ work devices after getting advice from intelligence and security agencies.
In a statement, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said exceptions would only be granted on a case by case basis for the use of the Chinese-owned service.
“After receiving advice from intelligence and security agencies, today I authorised the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department to issue a mandatory direction under the Protective Security Policy Framework to prohibit the TikTok app on devices issued by Commonwealth departments and agencies. The direction will come into effect as soon as practicable,” Dreyfus said in a statement on Tuesday.
Government staff who are given exceptions to use TikTok for work will need a dedicated phone for the app and must register their account to a generic federal email address, underscoring the severity of the risk security agencies see in the service.
The app has come under fire over concerns it could be used by the Chinese government for surveillance or influence operations because its parent company ByteDance is headquartered in China. TikTok has consistently denied that, saying it has robust security measures.
The government has ruled out banning the app, which has an estimated 7 million monthly
Australian users, for the general public, are considering options to force TikTok to store all Australian data locally, so it cannot be accessed by employees in China.
Opposition cybersecurity spokesman James Paterson welcomed the ban, but said Australia had trailed behind other nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada.
“Now that this risk is being addressed, we must urgently turn our attention to the broader cybersecurity and foreign interference threat posed by TikTok to the millions of other Australian users,” he said. (SMH)