NSW Premier Chris Minns will impose a ban on the social media app TikTok on government-issued devices after potential security threats triggered an equivalent ban by the federal government earlier this week.
The ban will extend to the premier’s own TikTok account, which he used habitually as part of his recent election campaign but will now delete.
Under the ban, the government will prevent the installation of the application and remove it from any existing government-issued devices across all agencies and clusters.
State government departments with active TikTok accounts that will be affected include NSW Health, NSW Police and the Department of Education.
“I have asked for Cybersecurity NSW to issue advice to NSW government employees, to implement this change as soon as possible,” Minns said in a statement, adding, “I will no longer be using TikTok.”
The premier said exceptions would be made in cases where TikTok was considered essential for community messaging, including for public health and safety announcements.
TikTok was used widely by NSW public health officials during the COVID-19 pandemic, with videos under the search term for Chief Health Officer “Dr Kerry Chant” attracting more than 32 million views to date.
In 2021, Chant used the app to conduct video chats with TikTok influencers, to spread pandemic health messaging to their larger, younger audiences.
“The NSW government will be implementing a number of mitigations to ensure that the security risk of this use is managed appropriately,” Minns said.
The official “Chris Minns MP” TikTok account, which was still active on Wednesday afternoon, has 10,500 followers and more than 290,000 likes.
Minns’s media team used the account extensively throughout the election campaign in the lead-up to Labor’s victory on March 25, using it to promote slogans, election promises and policy platforms. Former premier Dominic Perrottet also used TikTok during the election campaign, attracting almost 9000 followers and more than 127,000 likes.
Minns will delete his official account on Wednesday night.
The state government decision follows a move on Tuesday by the Commonwealth government to ban the social media video app from the device of politicians and public servants after receiving advice from intelligence and security agencies.
Potential risks posed by the app emerged amid concerns it could be used by the Chinese government for surveillance or influence operations because its parent company ByteDance is headquartered in China. TikTok has consistently denied that, insisting it has robust security measures.
Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said exceptions would only be granted on a case-by-case basis for the use of the Chinese-owned service.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has also announced a TikTok ban on state government devices and will no longer use the app himself.
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