Well There It Is: TikTok to be Banned on All Australian Government Devices

Well There It Is: TikTok to be Banned on All Australian Government Devices

In a move everyone saw coming, TikTok has reportedly been banned from Australian government devices.

While nothing official has been announced out of Canberra as yet, The Australian this morning seems pretty confident in its report.

According to the report, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed off on a government-wide ban on the use of the app, which it said followed a review into the security risks of TikTok by the Department of Home Affairs. The report clarifies the ban will apply to all government and department-issued devices operated by politicians and public servants.

The Chinese-owned video app has come under increasing focus over fears that user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, undermining Western security interests. The move from Australia comes as fellow Five Eyes partners (Five Eyes being an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) all make similar moves in their respective jurisdictions.

New Zealand’s ban came into force on Friday, with the country’s Parliamentary Service chief executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero declaring the risks with TikTok are “not acceptable”. Since the announcement that the ban was coming, Australian security experts had been increasing their calls for a similar move for governmental TikTok users here.

Reports that Australia was banning TikTok started emerging last night.

As reported by the ABC previously, several Australian government departments and agencies had banned TikTok from their devices, but there was no public-service-wide rule. It is understood state and territory governments were briefed on the ban by the federal government yesterday, and are expected to follow suit with similar bans.

Back in July, we brought it to your attention that an investigation found that using TikTok on your phone gives the app access to your personal information. A lot of it, in fact. Analysis by Australian cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0 found TikTok requests almost complete access to the contents of a phone while the app is in use. That data includes calendar, contact lists and photos.

As a result, the Australian Department of Home Affairs in September said it was going to be looking into the data harvesting practices of both TikTok and WeChat. Back in 2020, Home Affairs did conduct an investigation into TikTok. Well, the department’s cybersecurity risk area performed a risk assessment internally for departmental systems in January 2020. But apparently, there was no advice provided to government on TikTok as a result of this review.

We’ll update this article with further information once it has been confirmed by Canberra.

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