TikTok has been banned on any devices issued by Commonwealth department and agencies.
This means any tech device, such as a phone or tablet, which has been given to a public servant in Federal Government agencies and departments will not be allowed to have the app installed.
Employees affected by the ban would still be able to use the app on any personal devices they own.
Attorney-general Mark Dreyfus issued the statement on Tuesday.
“After receiving advice from intelligence and security agencies, today I authorised the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department to issue a mandatory direction under the Protective Security Policy Framework ti prohibit the TikTok app on devices issued by Commonwealth department and agencies,” he said.
“The direction will 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.”
Rumours of a TikTok ban in Canberra have been circulating since there were similar moves in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.
There have been growing security concerns about the Chinese-owned platform, which has been accused of everything from leaking data to the Chinese Government to spreading misinformation.
TikTok has long denied it poses a security risk and has insisted it does not pass on data or information to the Chinese Community Party.
Despite its insistence that all is above board, the US government recently launched a criminal investigation into TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, and the Biden administration has gone as far as to threaten a nationwide ban on the app unless its Chinese owners sell their share in the app.
Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok, has testified before American Congress and said the app does not promote or remove content at the request of the Chinese Government.
“It is our commitment to this committee and all our users that we will keep [TikTok] free from any manipulation by any government,” he added.
Last year, it was revealed that Facebook’s parent company Meta had been paying a large Republican consulting firm to orchestrate a campaign to turn the nation against TikTok.
A memo seen by The Washington Post said the firm needed to “get the message out that while Meta is the current punching bag, TikTok is the real threat especially as a foreign owned app that is #1 in sharing data that young teens are using”.
TikTok’s local general manager, Lee Hunter, said he was keen to meet with Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil and anyone within the government to “explain the truth of the platform”.
“We’re extremely disappointed with this decision,” he told the ABC when news started circulating that the ban could come into effect.
“In our view, this is driven by politics and not by fact.
“And we’re also disappointed with the fact that TikTok and the millions of Australians who use it every day will find out about this decision through the media, despite repeated efforts from our end.”
There are no suggestions yet that TikTok will be banned for all citizens and residents in Australia.