An app that is owned by China asserts that the change was “motivated by politics, not by fact.”
Because of the security risks associated with using an app that is owned by China, the government of Australia has become the most recent nation to prohibit the use of TikTok on its devices.
That comes on the heels of similar restrictions from the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, Norway, the European Union, and the United Kingdom. Moreover, India and Afghanistan have completely banned the viral video app.
The prohibition is a response to rising concerns that China could use the company, which is controlled by ByteDance and based in Beijing, to harvest the data of its users in order to advance its political agenda, so harming Western security interests.
It also runs the risk of reigniting diplomatic tensions between Australia and its greatest trading partner, after things had somewhat eased up between the two countries since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took office in May as the head of a Labor government in Australia.
TikTok expressed its profound dissatisfaction with the Australian government’s decision, stating that it was “motivated by politics, not by fact.”
The prohibition will go into force “as soon as practical,” according to a statement released by Attorney General Mark Dreyfus. He also added that exemptions will only be given on a case-by-case basis and when suitable safety precautions are taken into account.
Following Australia’s lead, all countries that are part of the so-called Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network – which includes Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Britain, and New Zealand – have prohibited the use of the software on government-issued mobile devices.
During his appearance before the United States Congress a month ago, the CEO of TikTok, Shou Zi Chew, denied on multiple occasions that the app distributes data or has any affiliations with the Chinese Communist Party.
According to Lee Hunter, who is the general manager for Australia and New Zealand at TikTok, the company should not be singled out.
According to a statement released by Hunter, “there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok is in any way a security danger to Australians and it should not be treated differently from other social media platforms.” TikTok was referring to the popular video-sharing app.
The Australian newspaper claimed late on Monday night that Home Affairs Minister Christopher Albanese had agreed to the ban following an investigation by the department.
Dreyfus said that the federal government had just obtained a study entitled “Review into Foreign Intervention through Social Media Apps” and that the recommendations contained within the report were still being taken into consideration.
The restriction was implemented on the same day that officials from Australia and China met in Beijing to discuss ways to restore normalcy to trade relations ahead of the World Trade Organization’s planned release of its findings regarding an Australian complaint regarding barley tariffs.
In reference to the possibilities of enhancing business interactions, the Minister of Trade, Don Farrell, was quoted as saying to Sky News, “Things are going well, but of course, it’ll take some time to turn this ship around.”
In 2018, Australia angered China by preventing the Chinese company Huawei from participating in the rollout of its 5G network by preventing Huawei from providing equipment. Once Canberra sought for an independent investigation into the origin of Covid-19, relations between the two countries became even more strained.
As a form of retaliation, China imposed duties on several Australian exports.
TikTok can still be used on personal phones by Australian parliamentarians; however, several of them, including the Minister of Government Services for the federal government, Bill Shorten, and the Premier of Victoria state, Daniel Andrews, have elected to remove their accounts.
TikTok is coming under increasing scrutiny over the possible effect that China could have over the platform, but it is also under criticism over the influence that it has on young people.
TikTok has stated that the administration of President Joe Biden has asked that its Chinese owners liquidate their holdings in the company or face the possibility of a ban in the United States.
If it were to become law, the RESTRICT Act, which is a bill being considered by the Senate on both sides of the political aisle, would give the White House new authority to restrict the import of apps and other technologies originating in China.
Extra reports from various government agencies.