TikTok is facing a ban in the US. What does it mean for Australia?


Chinese-owned social media giant TikTok is facing its gravest challenge in the United States yet, as the House of Representatives voted decisively in favour of a bill that could either ban its operations in America or compel a sale.⁠ ⁠ So what does it mean for the rest of the world and would Australia consider a ban of its own?⁠
Australia banned TikTok on federal government devices in April 2023. (Photo illustration by Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

They say that when the U.S. sneezes, Australia catches a cold. But when it comes to ByteDance-owned social media platform TikTok, Australia is blazing its own trail.

As it stands, there are no plans to ban TikTok from devices used by the Australian public, the Albanese government confirmed. A bill passed the US House of Representatives this week mandating that TikTok change its ownership structure or be banned in that country.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s comments that Australia has no plans to ban TikTok,” a spokesperson from TikTok Australia told Forbes Australia.

“Any changes to TikTok in Australia would have a significant impact on the 350,000 businesses, and more than eight-and-a-half million Australians, who use the app to connect and grow their businesses.”

TikTok’s comments come on the same day that Minister Bill Shorten told the Nine Network that while he is not personally a fan of TikTok, the government would not ban the platform from being accessed on devices belonging to the Australian public.

“I’ll be honest with TikTok… Whilst I acknowledge the national security debate, which is important as a parent, I think there’s a separate discussion to be had about the impact of social media on kids in particular, the algorithms that these programs use, I think, do have an injuring effect on kids. But in terms of – so I’m not a fan of TikTok at all, but in terms of national security, we’ll take the advice of the national security experts.”

Minister Shorten’s comments come on the heels of a statement Prime Minister Albanese gave yesterday regarding whether Australia would follow the potential ban taking place in the US.


“We’ll take advice, but we have no plans to do that. I think you’ve got to be pretty cautious,” Albanese told Sydney radio station WSFM.

“You’ve always got to have national security concerns front and centre, but you also need to acknowledge that for a whole lot of people, this provides a way of them communicating. And so, we haven’t got advice at this stage to do that.”

Forbes reported that the US bill called the ‘Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act’ bans web hosting companies from storing files or data from TikTok.

“This provision would force TikTok to search for an American buyer or face a shutdown in the U.S., possibly similar to what happened after India banned the app in 2020,” Forbes reports. “It will ban TikTok or any app owned or distributed by a company controlled by a “foreign adversary nation.”

If the bill passes the U.S. Senate, TikTok would not be banned immediately.

“The bill would give ByteDance a 180-day grace period to sell TikTok, allowing it to continue operating in the U.S. temporarily until it finds a buyer. If not, it will become illegal for app stores, like those operated for Apple and Android devices, to host the app or distribute updates.”

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