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Amid security concerns, Australia to ban TikTok on government devices

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Canberra: Australia’s federal government will ban video-sharing application TikTok on government devices over fears that the application’s security could be compromised and the platform could be used for foreign interference by China, ABC News reported.

Australia becomes the last nation in the “five eyes” intelligence alliance to block the app after similar decisions were taken by the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has announced that the ban will come into effect “as soon as practicable.” He further stated that exemptions will be made on a case-by-case basis, as per the ABC News report.

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In a statement, Mark Dreyfus said, “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.”

Earlier on Tuesday, the Victorian and ACT governments stated that they expected an imminent ban, as per the news report. A spokesperson for Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said they will follow the Commonwealth’s guidance with regard to cybersecurity and they will now work on implementing these changes “across the public service as soon as possible.”

According to the ACT government’s spokesperson, the territory government will work with the government to implement restrictions. In a statement, they said, “The ACT government was notified yesterday of an imminent announcement from the Commonwealth to ban TikTok from Government devices,” as per the news report.

They said that the ACT government will consider similar restrictions on territory government devices at a security and emergency meeting of the cabinet tomorrow, as per the news report. They stressed that the move could be made based on the Commonwealth’s advice, and the desirability of national cybersecurity consistency.

In recent months, several nations have decided to block the app, after revelations that TikTok staff based in the US and China used the app to spy on American journalists who were writing stories critical of the app, as per the ABC News report. US President Joe Biden has said that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance divest in the app or else face a potential nationwide ban in the US.

Earlier in March, the French government banned the Chinese video-sharing application TikTok on government devices, NHK World reported. The French government has reportedly debarred TikTok on the work phones of public-sector employees.

French Public Service Minister Stanislas Guerini declared that TikTok, a Chinese-owned video-sharing software, would no longer be allowed on the work phones of civil servants.”

In order to guarantee the cybersecurity of our administrations and civil servants, the government has decided to ban recreational applications such as TikTok on the professional phones of civil servants,” he tweeted. France’s Transformation and Public Administration Minister Stanislas Guerini made the announcement on Friday.

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( With inputs from www.siasat.com )

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