Social media app TikTok will be banned on Australian government-issued devices because of national security risks.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced the ban on Tuesday after receiving advice from intelligence and security agencies.
He said the directive would come into effect “as soon as practicable”.
“Exemptions will only be granted on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate security mitigations in place,” Mr Dreyfus said.
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.
But TikTok Australia and New Zealand general manager Lee Hunter said there was no evidence the app was a security risk to Australians and it should not be treated differently to other social media platforms.
“We are extremely disappointed by this decision which, in our view, is driven by politics, not by fact,” he said.
“We are also disappointed that TikTok, and the millions of Australians who use it, were left to learn of this decision through the media despite our repeated offers to engage with government constructively about this policy.”
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who has more than 100,000 TikTok followers, earlier confirmed he would delete his account.
He said his government would follow the lead of its federal counterparts on matters of national security.
Cyber security expert Alastair MacGibbon said the public’s use of the app should also be reconsidered.
“I do wonder whether or not there needs to be some broader action,” he told ABC Radio.
“This is not around things made in China, as it’s often depicted. This is an argument about things controlled by China.”
Opposition security spokesman James Paterson said Australia was behind other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada which had implemented a ban on government devices.
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.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the coalition would support the decision but queried why it had taken so long to reveal.
“If the director-general of security is giving advice to members of parliament, they should follow it,” he said.
Mr Dutton also warned younger Australians to be cautious with their social media data.
Greens senator David Shoebridge said the government’s directive had missed the point and did not confront data security problems.
“Banning TikTok from government devices is a publicity stunt which 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,” he said.
Maeve Bannister and Tess Ikonomou
(Australian Associated Press)