TikTok has sparked debate all over the globe, particularly in the context of government devices. Concerns have been raised in some nations, including the United States, about the app’s potential security risks as a result of its Chinese ownership.
Australia has recently joined the TikTok ban trend on government devices following similar bans that have been implemented by the secretive Five Eyes security alliance US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
It’s possible that Australia’s move to ban TikTok on government devices is linked to concerns about potential Chinese government espionage and influence, such as the “China spy balloon” incident.
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This incident, and others like it, have led to a lack of trust in Chinese companies and their handling of data privacy and security in many nations.
It is worth noting that numerous nations, including Five Eyes alliance members, have expressed concerns about TikTok’s data privacy and security practices.
These concerns stem from the reality that TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance and that the Chinese government could possibly access user data via the app.
Mark Dreyfus, the attorney general, said he had authorized the secretary of his department to issue a mandatory directive prohibiting the TikTok app from being used on devices provided by Commonwealth departments and agencies.
“The direction will come into effect as soon as practicable,” he said. “Exemptions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate security mitigations in place.”
“TikTok poses significant security and privacy risks to non-corporate Commonwealth entities arising from the extensive collection of user data and exposure to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law.” According to the protective security direction.
Over half of all federal government agencies presently prohibit TikTok from being used on government devices, but the overarching policy will ensure consistency across the board. On Monday, the states and territories were notified of the impending prohibition.
Paterson stated that the opposition would now press for a review of TikTok use on personal devices, including the possibility of a national ban, which the US is currently considering.
A spokesperson for the Victorian government said the state would work to implement the new TikTok restrictions, while a spokesperson for the New South Wales government said Cyber Security NSW would continue talks with the federal government about the new stance.
Greens senator David Shoebridge said the ban wasn’t a serious reform because its focus was too limited.
“If we’re not careful it will just be the first hammer blow in an endless game of online whack-a-mole,” he said. “We’re in a data security and privacy crisis and we’re fixated on one platform. The data security issues for TikTok are mirrored in pretty much every other social media platform, the difference is that our government is not running a fear campaign against the governments that host those platforms.”
Concerns about Chinese companies and data privacy go beyond TikTok, and many nations have taken steps to address potential risks presented by Chinese-owned technology companies. A variety of problems, including cyber-espionage, intellectual property theft, and foreign meddling in domestic politics, have fueled these fears.
As a consequence, there is an increase in the sense among many countries that they cannot trust Chinese companies with their privacy and security, which has led to increased scrutiny and regulation of these companies.