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New Zealand is banning TikTok from official tools, following a series of other countries that have imposed their own bans.
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The country is the latest to warn about cyber security concerns related to the app, and consequently limit the use of the app on government-owned devices.
Concerns have grown globally about the ability of the Chinese government to access users’ location and contact data through TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance.
The depth of those concerns was underscored this week when the Biden administration demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owner divest its stake or the app could face a US ban.
TikTok will be banned in New Zealand from the end of March on all devices with access to Parliament’s network.
Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, chief executive of the parliamentary service, said in an email to Reuters that the decision was taken after advice from cybersecurity experts and consultations 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.
He said that for those who need the app to do their work, special arrangements can be made for them.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Speaking at a media briefing, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said New Zealand does things differently to other countries.
Hipkins said, “Departments and agencies follow the advice of the (government Communications Security Bureau) in terms of IT and cyber security policies … We don’t have a blanket approach to the public sector approach.”
New Zealand’s Defense Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade both said on Friday that they have already banned TikTok on work equipment.
A spokesman for the New Zealand Defense Force said in an email to Reuters that the move was a “precautionary approach to protect the safety and security” of personnel.
On Thursday, Britain banned the app on government phones with immediate effect. Government agencies in the US have until the end of March to remove the app from official devices.
TikTok has said it believes the recent ban is based on “fundamental misunderstandings” and driven by broader geopolitics, adding that it has spent more than $1.5 billion on rigorous data protection efforts and has dismisses the allegations.
Responding to a question about the ban on TikTok from Britain and New Zealand, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a routine news briefing on Friday that the two countries were accused of “over-extending and misusing the concept of national security”. should be closed, and provide a fair and non-discriminatory environment for companies from all countries.
Additional reporting by agencies
TikTok banned in New Zealand government
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