Australia Bans TikTok on Government Staff Devices

TikTok bans continue to spread around the world, with the Australian Government becoming the latest to outlaw the app on Government-issued devices.

Australian Attorney General Mark Dreyfus has announced that he’s implementing a government staff ban based on advice from security agencies, with all federal public servants being advised to remove the app as soon as possible. In addition to this, several Australian state governments are also assessing a potential ban, while the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) is also reviewing its use of the app.

The ABC is a government-funded entity, but at this stage, the bans only apply to non-corporate elements.

The Australian ban adds to a growing list of regions restricting or banning TikTok outright, which has mostly applied only to government-affiliated usage, at least at this stage.

 TikTok bans by region

As you can see in this map, created by the Axios team, TikTok restrictions are steadily spreading across the globe, as geopolitical tensions continue to simmer, and concerns around the potential misuse of TikTok data spark warnings from respective security and law enforcement groups.

Which makes some sense. While much of TikTok’s counter-offensive has focused on how other social media apps gather up user data as well, the concern here is that TikTok information could potentially be shared with Chinese authorities, which could then see it used against government employees, who may be in a position to influence policy.

As such, there’s clear logic to removing TikTok from government staff devices specifically. And really, why do government employees need TikTok on their official devices anyway?

The Australian Government’s decision now means that all members of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence sharing network (Australia, Canada, the US, the UK and New Zealand) have moved to ban the app from government devices. That indicates that the intelligence community has clearly expressed concerns about the app.

The question now is whether those concerns extend to regular users, and in particular, youngsters using the app to connect and share with friends.

On one hand, regular users would seem less susceptible to any potential interference in this respect – but then again, if you extend the logic that it could be used to spy on government employees, what about their family and their friends? There could be reason to institute broader bans – which is what the US Government is now mulling over as we head into the Easter break.

And you can bet that if the White House bans the app outright, most of these regions will follow suit.

The recent appearance of TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew before the US Senate may have helped to make him an icon in the app, but it appears to have done little to ease concerns among cybersecurity groups.

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