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Australia Bans TikTok on Government Devices Over National Security Concerns

Australia to ban TikTok on government devices.

On Tuesday, Australia said it would ban TikTok on government devices, joining many Western countries cracking down on the Chinese-owned app over national security concerns.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the decision took advice from the country’s intelligence agencies and would begin “as soon as practicable”.

Australia is the last secretive Five Eyes security alliance member to seek a government ban on TikTok, joining its allies the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand.

France, the Netherlands and the European Commission have also taken similar moves.

Dreyfus said the government would grant some exemptions “on a case-by-case basis” and “take appropriate safety mitigation measures”.

Cybersecurity experts have warned that the app, which has more than a billion users, could be used to collect data that could be shared with the Chinese government.

Security concerns were heightened by a 2017 Chinese law requiring local companies to hand over personal data to the state in cases related to national security.

Beijing denies the reforms pose a threat to ordinary users. Mao Ning, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, said in March that China had “never and will not require companies or individuals to collect or provide data located in foreign countries in violation of local laws”.

TikTok has said such bans are “rooted in xenophobia” while insisting it is not owned or operated by the Chinese government.

The company’s Australian spokesman Lee Hunter said it would “never” provide data to the Chinese government.

“Nobody is working harder to ensure this never happens,” he told Australia’s Channel 7. But the company acknowledged in November that some employees in China had access to European user data and said in December that employees used the data to spy on journalists.

The app, used for sharing short, light-hearted videos, has exploded in popularity recently.

Many government departments were initially eager to use TikTok to connect with a younger demographic that was more difficult to reach through traditional media channels.

In March, New Zealand banned TikTok from government devices, saying the risk was “unacceptable in the current New Zealand parliamentary environment”.

Earlier this year, the Australian government announced that it would remove Chinese-made CCTV cameras from politicians’ offices due to security concerns.

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