TikTok Banned From Government Devices In Australia… And UBC Students Have Been Told That They Might Want To Remove The App Too

Australia is joining a growing list of countries who are banning Chinese social media app TikTok from government devices according to Reuters:

 Australia banned TikTok on Tuesday from all federal government-owned devices over security concerns, becoming the latest U.S.-allied country to take action against the Chinese-owned video app.

The ban underscores growing worries that China could use the Beijing-based company, owned by ByteDance Ltd, to harvest users’ data to advance its political agenda, undermining Western security interests.

It also risks renewing diplomatic tension between Australia and its largest trading partner after things eased somewhat since Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took office in May at the head of a Labor government.

TikTok said it was extremely disappointed by Australia’s decision, calling it “driven by politics, not by fact”.

The ban will come into effect “as soon as practicable”, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a statement, adding that exemptions would only be granted on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate security measures in place.

Not only that, The University Of British Columbia is suggesting to students that they punt the Chinese social media app from their phones as well:

The school said in a statement issued last week that the app is one of UBC’s fastest-growing social media platforms, used by students, staff and faculty for entertainment, research, outreach and recruitment.

 However, it said the video platform has sparked security and privacy concerns about its data collection practices and data sharing with corporate parent ByteDance.

Although UBC said these risks are “not yet” proven, its privacy and information security teams “believe that TikTok does pose a risk to UBC’s systems and its stakeholders.”

It said the university had recently evaluated “the use of certain TikTok marketing features” and concluded they did not comply with British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

This was “due to the sharing of personal information with TikTok without the required contractual protection on TikTok’s use of the data.”

The statement said that “of particular concern” was a reference in TikTok’s terms of service that the app may capture keystroke patterns used on a device, and that this could allow usernames and passwords to be exposed.

The school is recommending that students use a browser to access TikTok content. Now the school does have their own TikTok account which continues to operate. But one has to wonder if they will shut that down for optics reasons.

This illustrates the challenges that TikTok is under. Nobody trusts them. And that’s only going to lead to more bans or more suggestions that you don’t remove it. And it might lead to TikTok being killed via death by a thousand cuts rather than one big ban.

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