US moves to ban TikTok, could Australia be next?

US moves to ban TikTok, could Australia be next?

An RMIT cyber security expert weighs in on the potential ban of TikTok in the US and whether Australia is likely to follow suit.

Professor Matthew Warren, Director of the Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation

Topics: TikTok, social media, internet, cyber risks, global security

“The US House of Representatives has today passed bipartisan legislation to force TikTok's Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell the popular social media platform or face a total ban in the US.

“This latest move follows a global trend to ban TikTok use due to security concerns about China.

“The use of TikTok has already been banned on government employee devices in a number of countries including Australia, the UK, the US, France, Canada, across the European Union, Taiwan and Iran. 

“More dramatically, India has banned several Chinese apps including TikTok and WeChat for all Indian citizens.

“The US House of Representatives is concerned that the app is harvesting data from user’s phones including via access to the camera and microphone, contact lists and information from other apps, including location data. 

“There are also concerns about the TikTok algorithms being used to share fake news and harmful content. 

“ByteDance has extensive AI and data analytics power, giving them the capability to determine trends for entire countries.

“Banning the app would involve removing it from app stores and using geo-tagging to control downloads. While this would not remove the app from phones it is already installed on, users would not be able to download updates and would only be able to use the app using another country’s VPN.

“Banning TikTok for all citizens could be an obvious next step in Australia as the government has a duty of care to protect all citizens against risks, including cyber risks. TikTok does pose a risk for all Australians due to the app’s potential for excessive data collection.

“The issue facing the Australian Government if they move to ban the app for all citizens is this splintering of the internet. They will have to determine how best to protect Australians who continue to interact with the platform outside the Australian zone of the internet.”

Professor Matthew Warren is Professor of Cyber Security at RMIT University and Director of the RMIT University Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation.


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14 March 2024


14 March 2024


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