Australia Bans TikTok on Government Devices, Joining Canada and Others

Australia on Tuesday announced it is banning the popular Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from all government-issued devices (via Bloomberg).

“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,” Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Tuesday.

According to the announcement, Australia’s TikTok ban will take effect as soon as possible. The Attorney-General did, however, note that some exemptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis, albeit with “appropriate security mitigations in place.”

With Tuesday’s order, Australia joins fellow Five Eyes members Canada, the U.S., the U.K., and New Zealand in taking action against the Chinese-owned app amidst a recent uptick in concerns over its data collection and user privacy policies.

The U.S. banned TikTok on government devices back in February, getting the ball rolling for similar prohibitive action from other countries. Canada soon followed suit, with provincial and municipal governments rolling out bans of their own. Even the University of British Columbia advised students to uninstall TikTok from their devices last week.

Following Australia’s ban announcement, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said China has made “solemn representations” to the country.

“Digital security issues should not be used as a tool to over stretch the concept of national security and abuse state power in suppressing foreign companies,” the spokesperson told reporters during a press briefing in Beijing.

“We urge Australia to earnestly observe market rules and the principle of fair competition and provide a fair, transparent, non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies.”