Senior Labor figures dump TikTok as ban is confirmed

TikTok banned on government devices

Senior Labor figures have begun dumping social media app TikTok after a widespread ban on government-issued devices was confirmed.

Federal cabinet minister Bill Shorten said he would ditch the Chinese-owned app to “set an example”, as the federal government announced the imminent ban on Tuesday.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews – freshly returned from a trip to China – confirmed his government would follow its federal counterparts. He will also ditch his own TikTok account – which has more than 100,000 followers,

The bans follow Department of Home Affairs review into national security implications of data collected by social media companies.

Mr Andrews said he was yet to be briefed on the security review, and did not outline when Victoria’s ban would be introduced.

“When it comes to the issues of national security, whenever we can have one policy, we have one framework that operates across our country,” he said.

The NSW government is also reviewing its policies for TikTok. A spokesperson said the new Minns government was working with the Australian Cyber Security Centre run by the Australian Signals Directorate “regarding its updated position on TikTok and federal government devices”.

Meanwhile, Mr Shorten told Sky News on Tuesday that he had already ditched the short-form video app.

“I already have given it up on a government phone, I’m happy to give up the issue of being on TikTok if we need to set an example,” he told First Edition.

Mr Shorten said TikTok made politics “comprehensible and engaging” for younger Australians. But he said he had “no hassle” about deleting it.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus confirmed the ban on the app on Tuesday morning.

“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. The direction will come into effect as soon as practicable,” he said.

“Exemptions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate security mitigations in place.”

White House threatens to ban TikTok

Concerns over TikTok relate to the potential for data to be harvested and accessed by the Chinese government under national laws that can compel companies to hand over information.

A cyber security expert said banning TikTok on official devices was a good move but flagged the public’s use of the app should also be reconsidered.

“I do wonder whether or not there needs to be some broader action,” CyberCX chief strategy officer Alastair MacGibbon told ABC Radio National.

“This is not around things made in China, as it’s often depicted, this is an argument about things controlled by China.

“There’s a fundamental difference between normal electronics manufactured in China and electronics that are controlled essentially under the laws of Beijing.”

Opposition security spokesman James Paterson said Australia was behind other countries like the US, Britain, New Zealand and Canada, which had already made similar moves.

He said TikTok represented a serious espionage threat and wider action to protect the public should be the government’s next step.

“The data privacy and security risks and also the foreign interference risks that affect millions of Australians who use the platform are so far not yet dealt with,” he told Sky News.

“They have to be dealt with. Dealing with it on government devices is only the start.”

But Greens senator David Shoebridge said the government’s directive had missed the point and did not confront data security problems.

“The data security issues for TikTok are mirrored in pretty much every other social media platform – the difference is that our government is not running a fear campaign against the governments that host those platforms,” he said.

“Banning TikTok from government devices is a publicity stunt that masks the fact our data is being exploited by every corporation that can get its hands on it – social media platforms, health apps, the games our children play.”

– with AAP

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