Australia’s national security chiefs are considering a ban on China’s TikTok app from all government devices.
Security officials have been asked to determine whether Australia should ban the social media app from all government agencies over its links to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The move comes after the Biden Administration’s order on February 27 to ban TikTok from government devices.
The Biden admin order states that all federal agencies had just 30 days to wipe TikTok from all government devices in a bid to keep U.S. data safe.
This follows similar moves made by Canada and the European Union.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers on March 1 said that the government was aware of the Biden administration’s decision.
Chalmers said that they would take the advice of Australia’s national security agencies on such measures.
He added that the federal government had not been told by the security chiefs to change the current setting.
“We’ll take the advice of our national security agencies,” he said, noting that, to date, this had not been the advice.
“We’re obviously aware of the announcement the Americans made overnight.
“No doubt, our colleagues in the agencies will be considering that and factoring that into their own thinking.
“But the advice to us hasn’t yet changed.”
Multiple government agencies in Australia have already banned Tiktok, including the CSIRO, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Home Affairs, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Industry, Education, Employment and Finance departments, and the Australian Public Service Commission.
Shadow Minister for Cyber Security and Countering Foreign Interference James Paterson has been calling on the federal government to ban TikTok since the European Union announced it on Feb. 24.
“It is positive to see the EU take this step to protect government users from TikTok,” Paterson said.
“Australia cannot fall behind and must take the same action—as well as protect the millions of citizens who use the app now widely acknowledged as a national security risk.”
It is positive to see the EU take this step to protect government users from TikTok. Australia cannot fall behind and must take the same action – as well as protect the millions of citizens who use the app now widely acknowledged as a national security risk. https://t.co/fFzqqZZ4Dr
— James Paterson (@SenPaterson) February 24, 2023
Paterson has previously applauded the decision of government departments to remove the app from work devices but is still very concerned over how many Australian users continued to use it, reported the Canberra Times.
It is believed TikTok has over 1.6 million users in Australia, with over 1.2 million of those users coming from the country’s two youngest generations (born after 1991).
“It is good to see more and more government departments and agencies recognize the cyber security risks caused by apps like TikTok,” Paterson said.
“But millions of Australian users remain unprotected from an app which is closely connected to the Chinese Communist Party.
“In 2023, that must change.”
The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said on Twitter on Feb. 28 that the Biden administration “has made advancing our nation’s cybersecurity a top priority.”
“Today, OMB is releasing guidance on the implementation of the ‘No TikTok on Government Devices Act,’ requiring agencies to cease using the app except in select circumstances,” the agency wrote.
The Administration has made advancing our nation’s cybersecurity a top priority.
Today, OMB is releasing guidance on implementation of the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” requiring agencies to cease using the app except in select circumstances.https://t.co/rQp9CTI2b9
— Office of Management and Budget (@OMBPress) February 27, 2023
According to the memo, all federal agencies must prohibit internet traffic from reaching the Chinese-owned company as part of the purge and must address any use of TikTok by IT vendors through contracts within 90 days. Further, they must include a new prohibition on TikTok in all new solicitations within 120 days.
Tiktok has been mired in controversy due to concerns about its ties with parent company ByteDance, based in Beijing.
ByteDance, established in 2012, specializes in the development of artificial intelligence.
Its founder and now-CEO, Zhang Yiming, declared in 2018 that it would strengthen ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
This has raised concerns because CCP laws subject Chinese companies to potential intervention from the state, notably the National Intelligence Law 2017, which mandates in Article 7 that organizations or citizens shall “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.”
West Australian Member of Parliament, Andrew Hastie, has said the National Intelligence Law “means the (CCP) can compel Chinese businesses to share information with them.”
“TikTok is an attractive database of the habits, psychology, (and) personal preferences of over one million young Australians,” Hastie said.