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NSW follows federal lead in banning TikTok on government devices as Premier Chris Minns deletes his account

- April 6, 2023 2 MIN READ
Photo: AdobeStock
New NSW Labor premier Chris Minns has deleted his TikTok account as the state follows in the footsteps of federal Labor in banning the Chinese-owned social media app on government-issued devices. 

Minns said the decision follows advice from the Commonwealth.

On Tuesday federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus issued a directive to remove the TikTok app from Commonwealth-issued devices used by public servants and politicians because it poses “significant protective security risk”.

Other states and territories are expected to follow suit. All five nations in the intelligence sharing Five Eyes group – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and US – have now banned TikTok on government devices.

The NSW Premier, who was a prolific TikTok poster during the recent state election, said he will no longer use the app. His account, which more than 10,000 followers, was deleted ahead of the announcement.

“I have asked for Cyber Security NSW to issue advice to NSW Government employees, to implement this change as soon as possible,” Minns said.

“There will be cases where apps such as TikTok are needed for communication to the community – for example public health and safety messaging. The NSW Government will be implementing a number of mitigations to ensure that the security risk of this use is managed appropriately.”

TikTok Australia has been contacted for comment.

Despite the fact that China has banned TikTok domestically, along with a range of social media apps, Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat andYouTube, a foreign ministry spokesperson described the Australian ban as an “abuse of state power”, without a trace of irony.

“China always believes that digital security should not be used as a tool to suppress foreign companies in an overstretch of the concept of national security and abuse of state power,” the spokesperson said.

“We urge Australia to earnestly observe the rules of market economy and the principle of fair competition, and provide a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese companies.”

Cyber Security NSW will work across the NSW public sector to lead a strategic implementation of the ban on government-issued devices to prevent people accessing and installing TikTok.

The Premier said that in particular cases where there is a need for TikTok for ‘legitimate business reasons’ – such as for public health and safety messaging – agencies must first complete a risk assessment in consultation with the respective Chief Information Security Officer and the Chief Cyber Security Officer.

The ban comes just days after the UK’s data watchdog fined TikTok $23 million for breaching data protection laws, with the social media app using the personal data of children aged under 13 without parental consent.

Earlier this week the new state government also announced it will ban mobile phones in schools.

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