New Zealand joins US push to curb TikTok use on official phones with parliament ban | CNN affairs



New Zealand will ban TikTok from all devices with access to its parliament by the end of this month, becoming the latest country to impose an official block on the popular social media platform owned by a Beijing-based tech conglomerate.

Under the leadership of the United States, a growing number of Western countries are imposing restrictions on the use of TikTok on government devices, citing national security concerns.

Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, CEO of New Zealand’s Parliamentary Service, said in a statement Friday that the risks of keeping the video-sharing app “are not acceptable”.

“This decision was made based on the analysis of our own experts and after consultation with our colleagues within government and internationally,” he wrote.

“On the advice of our cybersecurity experts, the Parliamentary Service has informed Members and staff that the TikTok app will be removed from all devices with access to the Parliamentary network,” he added.

But those who need the app to “carry out their democratic duties” can be made an exception, he said.

CNN has reached out to TikTok and Beijing-based owner ByteDance for comment.

iIn an email to MPs seen by CNN, Gonzalez-Montero told lawmakers that the app would be removed from their corporate devices on March 31, after which they would not be able to download it again.

He also instructed lawmakers to remove the app from their private devices, adding that failure to comply could result in them being unable to access the parliamentary network.

New Zealand lawmaker Simon O’Connor, who also co-chairs the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance for China (IPAC), told CNN he welcomed the decision and called it “a good one”.

“I – and IPAC as a whole – have been deeply concerned about data privacy for some time now,” he said, adding that TikTok’s answers to his previous questions about data security were “unsatisfactory.”

IPAC is a cross-border group formed by lawmakers from democratic countries that focuses on relations with China and is often critical of Beijing’s leaders.

New Zealand’s decision followed similar actions already taken by its Western allies, despite the country’s track record of a more cautious approach when it comes to dealings with Beijing, in part because China is such an important trading partner. is.

The United States, UK and Canada have ordered the app removed from all government phones, citing cybersecurity concerns.

All three countries are part of the so-called “Five Eyes” alliance that cooperates in intelligence gathering and sharing. Australia and New Zealand make up the five.

China’s video-sharing app has also been blocked in all three major European Union government institutions.

Tik Tok has become one of the world’s most successful social media platforms and is extremely popular among young people.

The short video sharing app has over 100 million users in the United States alone.

New Zealand’s latest move came just hours after TikTok acknowledged that the Biden administration had threatened to ban its operation nationwide unless the Chinese owners agreed to spin off their share of the social media platform.

US officials have expressed fears that the Chinese government could use its national security laws to pressure TikTok or its parent company ByteDance to hand over the personal information of TikTok’s US users, which could then benefit Chinese intelligence activities or campaigns could affect.

China has accused the United States of “unreasonably suppressing” TikTok and spreading “false information” about data security.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the US Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this month that he feared the Chinese government could use TikTok to sway public opinion in the event that China invades Taiwan, the self-governing island over which Beijing claims sovereignty. despite never having reigned over it.

TikTok has repeatedly denied it poses any security risk and said it is willing to work with regulators to address any concerns.

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