TikTok not approved by Australian defence department in latest setback for short video platform’s global push

Coco Feng

The Australian defence department has taken a similar stance to the US in not approving the use of short video app TikTok on devices used by its military personnel.

Guidelines published in April last year by the Australian Government’s Cybersecurity Centre said “whitelisting” was one of the government’s major cyber threat mitigation strategies, which “can contribute to the identification of attempts by an adversary to execute malicious code”.

“The TikTok application is not used” and has not been “whitelisted”, a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Defence said in a written response to the Post.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

TikTok overtakes Facebook to become world’s second most downloaded app

TikTok, operated by Beijing-based Bytedance, has exploded in popularity over the past two years, becoming a rare example of Chinese internet success on the global market. It overtook Facebook and Messenger to become the second most downloaded app in 2019, behind WhatsApp, also owned by Facebook. However, its rapid expansion has generated a backlash among US regulators and lawmakers over national security and privacy concerns.

The US government has launched a national security review of ByteDance’s US$1 billion acquisition of US social app Musical.ly, which was later absorbed into TikTok. The US Navy has banned the app from government-issued mobile devices, and discouraged members to install it on personal phones. US army cadets were also instructed not to use TikTok.

TikTok has repeatedly defended itself over concerns about data privacy and security, saying that the app stores user data outside China.

The app’s international growth has also been marred by regulatory problems elsewhere, including in the UK, India and Indonesia. In July, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office announced it was investigating TikTok over the latter’s handling of children’s data privacy. India temporarily banned downloads of the app in April last year and Indonesia did the same a year earlier, largely due to concerns about salacious content.

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