New Zealand Members of Parliament Barred from Using TikTok

New Zealand MPs and other workers in the country’s Parliament will be barred from having the TikTok app on their government phones, officials said Friday (17/3).

The ban, which comes into effect at the end of the month, follows similar moves in many other countries.

However, New Zealand’s ban will only apply to around 500 people in the parliament complex, not all government employees like the bans in the US and UK. New Zealand’s other bodies may decide later whether to enforce the ban as well.

Global concern about the app arose after warnings by the FBI and other intelligence services that TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, could share TikTok user data, such as browsing history, location and biometric identifiers, with the authoritarian Chinese government.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he doesn’t have TikTok on his phone. “I’m not a trendy person,” he told reporters.

New Zealand’s move comes on the advice of government cybersecurity experts, said Chief Executive of the Parliamentary Service Rafael Gonzalez-Montero.

He said the app would be removed from all devices with access to the parliamentary network, although officials can make special exceptions for anyone who needs TikTok to carry out their democratic duties.

“This decision has been made based on the analysis of our own experts and following discussions with our counterparts in government and at the international level,” Gonzalez-Montero said in a statement. “Based on this information, we have decided that this risk is unacceptable in New Zealand’s current parliamentary environment.”

Hipkins said cybersecurity advice came from intelligence agencies. He said New Zealand did not take a holistic approach for all government employees, and it was up to each department or agency to make their own cybersecurity decisions.

Meanwhile, China, on Friday, called the ban on TikTok in New Zealand and the UK an “abuse” of the concept of national security.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press briefing that the two countries should “stop expanding and abusing the concept of national security, and provide a fair and non-discriminatory environment for enterprises of all countries.”

On Thursday, the UK banned the use of the TikTok app on government phones with immediate effect. US government agencies have until the end of March to remove the app from office communications devices employees use. [ab/uh]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.