TikTok is once again in the government’s sights. Australia announced, on Tuesday, that it would prevent members of its executives from using the Chinese application on their work devices, joining a series of similar decisions in Western countries due to security concerns.
Justice Minister Mark Dreyfuss said the decision was taken on the advice of Australia’s intelligence services, and would be implemented “as soon as possible”. The app is owned by Chinese group ByteDance, which has a similar but separate app for China.
TikTok admits to spying on journalists
Australia is the latest country in the “Five Eyes” coalition to ban members of its government from TikTok, after the United States, Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Similar measures have been taken in France, the Netherlands and within the European Commission.
At the heart of the concerns is a 2017 Chinese law that requires domestic companies to turn over personal data that may be relevant to national security upon request by the authorities. For its part, TikTok declared that this ban was “rooted in xenophobia,” before admitting last December that it had collected personal data to spy on journalists.
The popularity of this short video sharing app has exploded in recent years, especially among the youth. Several Australian government departments have previously sought to increase their presence on TikTok to reach younger audiences.
Earlier this year, the Australian government also announced that it would remove Chinese-made CCTV cameras from politicians’ offices, also for security reasons.