Australia has announced a ban on the popular ByteDance-owned social media app TikTok, from all federal government-owned devices citing security concerns, per a Reuters report.
According to Australia’s Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, the ban would come into effect “as soon as practicable” while exemptions would be allowed on a case-by-case basis subject to security precautions.
The development makes Australia the last of the “Five Eyes” intelligence partners, following the U.S., UK, Canada and New Zealand to take action against the Chinese-owned video app over concerns that the Beijing-based company could use the app to gather users' data for political purposes, undermining Western security interests.
TikTok has since expressed disappointment over the ban and claimed it was "driven by politics, not by the fact." TikTok's General Manager for Australia and New Zealand argued that there is no evidence to suggest the app is a security risk and it should not be singled out.
The news comes amid the U.S. Congress pushing for a sale of the social network TikTok, which claims to now have 150 million US users, by its Chinese owners or face an outright ban. This is amid fears of its user data being shared with the Chinese government.
TikTok CEO, Shou Zi Chew has however repeatedly defended allegations levelled against the platform about it sharing data or having connections with the Chinese Communist Party and posing any risks to the country's national security.