TikTok is a short-form video hosting service owned by an internet technology company, ByteDance, with its headquarters located in Beijing, China. TikTok was launched in 2017 and surpassed 2 billion mobile downloads worldwide in October 2020.
According to NPR, Australia has become the latest country to ban the Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok from its federal government’s staff devices. This move follows the actions of other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing partners, including the United States, Canada, Britain, and New Zealand, who have all taken similar steps. The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries are parties to a multilateral Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
TikTok has continued to state that it does not share data with the Chinese government, however, Australia and other countries remain wary of the app’s potential for data collection, and the ban reflects a broader trend of increased scrutiny of Chinese tech companies around the world.
India previously imposed a nationwide ban on TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps in 2020 over privacy and security concerns, and the European Parliament, European Commission, and EU Council have all imposed bans on TikTok on staff devices. The trends suggest that governments around the world are increasingly concerned about the security implications of using these platforms. For users, this means being more cautious about the apps they use and the data they share online and being aware of potential risks to their privacy and security.