WELLINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) – New Zealand said on Friday it would ban TikTok on devices with access to the country’s parliamentary network due to cybersecurity concerns, becoming the latest country to restrict use of the video-sharing app on government-related devices. .
Concerns have grown globally over the possibility of the Chinese government accessing 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 owners divest their stake or the app could face a US ban.
In New Zealand, TikTok will be banned from all devices with access to the parliamentary network by the end of March.
Rafael González-Montero, chief executive of the Parliamentary Service, said in an email to Reuters that the decision was made after consultation with cybersecurity experts and discussions with the government and 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 an app to do their work, he said.
ByteDance did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Speaking at a press conference, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said New Zealand operates differently from other countries.
“Departments and agencies follow (the State Communications Security Bureau’s) advice in terms of IT and cybersecurity policies…we don’t have a blanket across the board approach,” Hipkins said.
New Zealand’s Defense Force and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade both said on Friday that they had already implemented bans on TikTok on work devices.
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 latest bans are based on “fundamental misconceptions” and is driven by broader geopolitics, and it has spent more than $1.5 billion on tougher data protection efforts and denies espionage allegations.
Reporting by Lucy Cramer in Wellington, Louise Jackson and Renju Jose in Sydney and Josh Yeh in Hong Kong; Editing by Ann Marie Rowntree, Muralikumar Anantharaman, Edwina Gibbs and Jerry Doyle
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