New Zealand is set to ban TikTok on devices with access to the country’s parliamentary network by the end of March, citing cybersecurity concerns as it becomes the latest country to limit the use of the popular video-sharing app on government-related devices.
TikTok, owned by Chinese parent company ByteDance, has come under intense scrutiny over its potential abuse by the Chinese government to access users’ location and contact data - an accusation which the social media firm has denied.
Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero told Reuters the decision was taken after advice from cybersecurity experts and discussions within government and with other countries.
He said: "Based on this information, the Service has determined that the risks are not acceptable in the current New Zealand Parliamentary environment.” Special arrangements however, 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. He said: "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.
Both the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade announced on Friday they had already enforced the TikTok ban on work devices. A spokesperson for the New Zealand Defence Force told Reuters the move was a "precautionary approach to protect the safety and security" of personnel.
This comes after Britain banned the app from government phones and devices with immediate effect on Thursday. Meanwhile, federal agencies in the United States have till the end of March to remove the app from official devices.
In February, the app was temporarily banned from work phones of staff at the European Commission over concerns around potential cyberattacks, and employees had until March 15 to delete the app from their devices.
TikTok has said it believes the recent bans are based on "fundamental misconceptions" and driven by wider geopolitics, adding that it has spent more than $1.5 billion on rigorous data security efforts and rejects spying allegations.
Responding to a question about the TikTok bans from Britain and New Zealand, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during a regular news briefing on Friday that the two countries should "stop over-extending and abusing the concept of national