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New Zealand joins TikTok ban on devices linked to parliament

New Zealand is set to ban TikTok on devices with access to the
country’s parliamentary network due to cybersecurity concerns,
becoming the latest nation to limit the use of the app on government-related devices.

Parliamentary Service Chief Executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said Friday’s decision was taken after advice from cybersecurity experts and discussions 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.

TikTok will be banned on all devices with access to the parliament’s network by the end of March, while special arrangements can be made for those who require the app to do their jobs.

Concerns have mounted globally about the potential for the
Chinese government to access users’ location and contact data
through ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company.

The depth of those concerns was underscored this week when
the Biden administration demanded that TikTok’s Chinese owners
divest their stakes or the app could face a US ban.

ByteDance did not immediately respond to a request
for comment.

READ MORE: Explained: Why are countries banning, penalising TikTok

‘Precautionary approach’

Speaking at a media briefing, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins
said New Zealand operated differently from other nations.

“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,” Hipkins said.

Both New Zealand’s defence force and Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade said on Friday they had already implemented
bans on TikTok on work devices.

A spokesperson for the New Zealand Defence Force said 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 delete the app from official 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.

READ MORE: Is the TikTok saga linked to the US-China tech competition?

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