According to comprehensive media reports, the Australian government announced on Tuesday (4th) that it will completely remove TikTok from federal government devices based on security considerations. This ban will apply to all mobile phones and other devices issued by the federal government to politicians and civil servants, that is, TikTok cannot be used on any government mobile phones or computers.
Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus (Mark Dreyfus) said in a statement that the ban will be implemented “as soon as practicable” and that future exemptions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate security measures in place. .
In a security advisory about the ban, Dreyfus said TikTok posed a “significant security and privacy risk” due to “extensive collection of user data.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Communist Party responded that day, saying that it had formally lodged a protest with the Australian authorities. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a regular press conference that he called on Australia to sincerely abide by the rules of the market economy and the principles of fair competition, and provide Chinese companies with a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment.
TikTok’s Australian spokesperson, Lee Hunter, told Australian media that TikTok will not hand over data to the Chinese government, and that the company does not belong to or depend on China. The bans are “rooted in xenophobia”,
According to reports, senior Australian government sources confirmed that after weeks of delays, the final ban has been made, which has raised concerns at some levels of the government: that the delay is due to “political reasons”.
Sources close to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese have denied the federal government had deliberately delayed announcing the ban, even though the review recommendation had been stalled in the government for weeks.
Many Australian government departments have previously tried to expand their presence on TikTok to appeal to younger audiences. Research estimates that 8 million Australians use the app, more than a quarter of the country’s population.
Cybersecurity experts have warned that the TikTok platform, which already has more than one billion users worldwide, could be used to siphon user data in large quantities and then be forced to share it with the Chinese government.
Australian Strategic Policy Institute (Australian Strategic Policy Institute, ASPI) senior analyst Fergus Ryan (Fergus Ryan) said that removing TikTok from government equipment is a complete no-brainer.
He told reporters: “We have known for many years that TikTok user data is readily available in China … In light of this, banning the app on government phones is a prudent decision.”
TikTok is the overseas version of Chinese short video sharing platform Douyin, whose parent company is China’s ByteDance. China’s National Intelligence Law passed in 2017 obliges local companies to provide personal data related to national security when requested by authorities, although Beijing insists the law poses no threat to ordinary users. Still, TikTok acknowledged in November that some employees in China had access to data on European users and acknowledged in December that its employees had used the data to track journalists.
TikTok CEO Zhou Shouzi held a hearing in the U.S. Congress at the end of March. When responding to concerns about national security brought by TikTok and its parent company ByteDance to the United States, he said with red lips and white teeth that ByteDance is not China (the CCP) or agents in any country.
Australia is reportedly the last country in the intelligence-sharing “Five Eyes” to ban TikTok. TikTok is coming under increasing scrutiny and pressure due to concerns that user data on the TikTok platform may end up in the hands of Chinese security agencies, harming Western security interests.
Previously, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand of the alliance have successively banned the use of TikTok on government-owned devices. In addition, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, the European Parliament, the European Commission, India and Taiwan have also taken similar actions, and NATO has also banned staff from using TikTok on official equipment.
On the same day that Australia banned TikTok, the British data regulator fined the short video social media platform 12.7 million pounds (about 15.9 million U.S. dollars) because TikTok violated data protection laws, including using 13-year-old children without parental consent. Personal data of children below. In fact, as early as 2019, TikTok was also fined US$5.7 million by the US Federal Trade Commission for inappropriately collecting data on children under the age of 13, which was a record at the time.