New Zealand becomes latest country to ban TikTok on government devices

New Zealand said on Friday it would ban TikTok on devices with access to the country’s parliamentary network due to cybersecurity concerns.

The move makes it the latest nation to limit the use of the video-sharing app on government-related devices.

Concerns have mounted globally about the potential for the Chinese government to access users’ location and contact data through ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company.

In New Zealand, TikTok will be banned on all devices with access to the parliament’s network by the end of March.

Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said in an email to Reuters that the decision was taken after advice from cybersecurity experts and discussions within the government and with other countries.

‘Based on this information, the Service has determined that the risks are not acceptable in the current New Zealand Parliamentary environment,’ he said.

Special arrangements can be made for those who require the app to do their jobs, he added.

Speaking at a media briefing, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said New Zealand operated differently from other nations.

‘Departments and agencies follow the advice of the (Government Communications Security Bureau) in terms of IT and cybersecurity policies … we don’t have a blanket across the public sector approach,’ said Hipkins.

Both New Zealand’s defence force and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Friday they had already implemented bans on TikTok on work devices.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Defence Force said in an email to Reuters the move was a ‘precautionary approach to protect the safety and security’ of personnel.

On Thursday, the UK banned staff from using TikTok on their work phones with ‘immediate effect’.

Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden made a statement to Parliament that following a review, all staff must remove the app ‘immediately’ from their government devices.

Last month, the White House gave government agencies 30 days to ensure they do not have TikTok on federal devices and systems. More than 30 US states have also banned employees from using TikTok on government-owned devices.

This week, the Biden administration demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners divest their stakes in the popular video app or face a possible US ban.

TikTok believes these bans have been based on ‘fundamental misconceptions and driven by wider geopolitics’.

The company also clarified that its user data was stored in the US and Singapore, not China.

TikTok’s European user data will begin being stored in their new European data centres.

Responding to a question about the TikTok bans from Britain and New Zealand on Friday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that the two countries should ‘stop over-extending and abusing the concept of national security, and provide a fair and non-discriminatory environment to companies from all countries’.

Source: Read Full Article