WELLINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) – New Zealand said on Friday it would ban TikTok from devices with access to the country’s parliamentary network over cybersecurity concerns. It becomes the latest state to restrict the use of the video-sharing app on government-related devices. .
There is global concern over the possibility of the Chinese government accessing users’ location and contact information through ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company.
The depth of those concerns was underscored this week when the Biden administration demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners divest their stakes or the app could face a US ban.
In New Zealand, TikTok will be banned from all devices with access to Parliament’s network by the end of March.
The head of parliament, Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, said in an email to Reuters that the decision was made 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 unacceptable in the current New Zealand parliamentary environment,” he said.
Special arrangements can be made for those who need the app to complete their work, he added.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said at a press conference that New Zealand operates differently than other countries.
“Your departments and agencies follow the (Government Communications Security Bureau’s) advice on IT and cyber security policy … we don’t have a blanket public sector approach,” Hipkins said.
Both the New Zealand Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on Friday that they have already implemented TikTok bans on work devices.
A New Zealand Defense Force spokesman said in an email to Reuters that the move was a “precautionary approach to protect the safety of personnel”.
On Thursday, Britain immediately banned the app from government phones. US government agencies have until the end of March to remove the app from official devices.
TikTok has said it believes the recent bans are based on “fundamental misunderstandings” and are rooted in broader geopolitics, adding that it has spent more than $1.5 billion on tight security measures and rejects allegations of espionage.
Reporting by Lucy Craymer in Wellington, Lewis Jackson and Renju Jose in Sydney and Josh Ye in Hong Kong; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree, Muralikumar Anantharaman, Edwina Gibbs and Gerry Doyle
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