New Zealand joins the United States and dozens of other Western countries in banning Chinese-owned TikTok on government devices. The move comes amid security fears that user data from the app could be accessed by Beijing for political purposes.
The Parliamentary Service chief executive told MPs that the risks are “not acceptable.” He said he would remove TikTok from all devices with access to the parliamentary network by the end of March.
New Zealand is joining a growing number of countries and institutions that have banned TikTok from government devices. The move is based on cybersecurity concerns, according to the New Zealand government.
The country’s Parliamentary Service chief executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said the risks were not acceptable in a current Parliamentary environment. He added that the app will be banned on devices with access to the parliamentary network by the end of March.
The US, dozens of states, Canada and the European Union have already banned TikTok from their devices. They worry that the Chinese government could use its national security laws to pressure the TikTok owner, ByteDance, to hand over sensitive user data for purposes of intelligence gathering or campaigning.
Despite being a highly popular social media app, TikTok has received global scrutiny over privacy concerns. The app’s parent company, ByteDance, is based in China, and Western regulators are concerned that it may be forced to hand over user data to Chinese authorities for alleged national security reasons.
New Zealand, which is a major trade partner with China, is now the latest country to ban the TikTok app from its government devices. Its decision comes on the heels of similar bans by its Western allies.
Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said the app would be banned from all devices with access to the parliamentary network by the end of March, following cybersecurity concerns. But he added that officials could make special arrangements for people who needed to use it to perform their democratic duties.
New Zealand is the latest country to ban TikTok on government devices, citing cybersecurity concerns. The move follows similar actions by Canada, Britain and the United States.
Several governments have been concerned about the app’s data security because it is owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance. That means that Beijing could access data from the billion-plus users on the app.
The app collects names, email addresses, phone numbers, location and IP addresses of its users. But it also collects other information, such as keystroke patterns and biometric data.
According to Reuters, New Zealand’s Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said that the decision was taken after consulting with cybersecurity experts and authorities from other countries. He added that the risks were not acceptable in the current New Zealand Parliamentary environment.
The UK has already banned TikTok on government devices for its ministers and officials, describing it as a “precautionary measure”. Oliver Dowden, the Cabinet Secretary, told the House of Commons that the ban was designed to protect cyber hygiene.
The New Zealand Parliament has banned TikTok on all devices that access its network, joining efforts by multiple governments to restrict the app over cybersecurity concerns. The move follows similar bans in Europe and the United States.
The decision comes after New Zealand’s Defence Force and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they had implemented bans on government devices.
According to Reuters, the move is expected to come into effect on March 31. In a statement, Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said the risk of “serious and permanent security vulnerabilities” in the parliamentary environment was not acceptable.
The app’s parent company ByteDance has been the subject of a global charm offensive that involves spending more than $1.5 billion on data security and rejecting spying claims. But these efforts may not be enough to shield the app from a US ban.