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01:57 PM, March 14, 2018
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Australian Military Bans Chinese WeChat App
Australian Military Bans Chinese WeChat App

The Australian Defense Department has banned its employees from using WeChat, an instant messaging app that's huge in China, likely related to data security fears within Australia.

Employees at the Australian Defense Department have been prohibited from going on WeChat. Officials down under are conducting a security assessment of the application and unless it is determined safe, Australian military members will be forbidden from accessing it, the Australian Financial Review reported Sunday.

The Defense Department "does not provide or support the use of unauthorized software, including the WeChat social media application, on defense mobile devices," a spokesman told the newspaper.

It comes amid concerns of heightened Chinese espionage activities within the country, although Defence didn't specify why it banned WeChat, owned by internet company Tencent.

Last May, Australian Defense Secretary Dennis Richardson said Beijing is "very active" in conducting intelligence operations against Australia. "The Chinese government keeps a watchful eye inside Australian Chinese communities and effectively controls some Chinese-language media in Australia," the official noted.

In a 2016 report, Amnesty International ranked WeChat and other Tencent apps lowest in a privacy assessment of popular messaging apps.

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