Australia has become the last of the Five Eyes security partners to ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from its federal government’s devices.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement on Tuesday that based on intelligence and security agencies’ advice, that ban would come into effect “as soon as practicable”.
The so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners – the United States, Canada, Britain and New Zealand – have taken similar steps.
TikTok’s general manager for Australia Lee Hunter criticised the decision.
“We are extremely disappointed by this decision which, in our view, is driven by politics, not by fact,” Mr Hunter said. “Again, we stress that there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok is in any way a security risk to Australians and should not be treated differently to other social media platforms.”
TikTok is owned by the Chinese technology company Bytedance and has long maintained that it does not share data with the Chinese government. It is carrying out a project to store US user data in Texas, which it says will put it out China’s reach.
The company also disputes accusations it collects more user data than other social media companies, and insists that it is run independently by its own management.
The European Parliament, European Commission and the EU Council, the 27-member bloc’s three main institutions, have also imposed bans on TikTok on staff devices. Under the European Parliament’s ban, which took effect last month, politicians and staff were also advised to remove the TikTok app from their personal devices.
India imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps, including the messaging app WeChat, in 2020 over privacy and security concerns.
The ban came shortly after a clash between Indian and Chinese troops at a disputed Himalayan border killed 20 Indian soldiers and injured dozens.
In early March, the US gave government agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from federal devices and systems. The ban applies only to government devices, though some US politicians are advocating an outright ban.
China has lashed out at the US for banning TikTok, saying it is an abuse of state power and is suppressing companies from other countries.
More than half of the 50 US states also have banned the app from official devices, as have Congress and the US armed forces.