New Zealand to become latest country to ban TikTok in parliament

Hong Kong

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

Led by 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 González-Montero, chief executive of the New Zealand Parliamentary Service, said in a statement Friday that the risks involved in keeping the video-sharing app “unacceptable”.

“This decision was made based on the analysis of our own experts and after discussion with our counterparts in 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 accessing the parliamentary network,” he added.

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

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

IIn an email to members of parliament 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 redownload it.

He also instructed lawmakers to remove the app from their personal devices, adding that failure to do so could prevent them from accessing the parliamentary network.

New Zealand MP Simon O’Connor, who is also co-chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), told CNN he welcomed the decision, calling it “good.”

“I – and IPAC as a whole – have had serious data privacy concerns for some time,” he said, adding that TikTok’s responses to its previous data security inquiries were “unsatisfactory.”

IPAC is a cross-border group created by democratic lawmakers that focuses on relations with China and often criticizes Beijing’s leaders.

New Zealand’s decision follows similar moves already taken by its Western allies, despite the country’s more cautious approach to relations with Beijing, in part because China is such an important trading partner.

United States, Great Britain And Canada ordered the app to be removed from all government phones, citing cybersecurity concerns.

All three countries are part of the so-called Five Eyes Alliance, which cooperates with each other in the field of intelligence gathering and sharing. Australia and New Zealand make up the top five.

Chinese video sharing app also prohibited in all three main public institutions of the European Union.

Tik Tok has become one of the most successful social networks in the world and is hugely popular among young people.

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

New Zealand’s latest move comes just hours after TikTok acknowledged that the Biden administration threatened to ban their activities across the country unless its Chinese owners agree to spin off their share of the social media platform.

U.S. officials have expressed concerns that the Chinese government could use its national security laws to pressure TikTok or its parent company ByteDance to release personal information of TikTok users to the U.S., which could then benefit Chinese intelligence activities or impact campaigns. .

China has accused the US of “unwarranted crackdown” on TikTok and spreading “false information” about data security.

Earlier this month, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the US Senate Intelligence Committee that he feared the Chinese government could use TikTok to sway public opinion if China invades Taiwan, a self-ruled island over which Beijing claims sovereignty despite that he never controlled.

TikTok has repeatedly denied that it poses any security risk and has said it is willing to work with regulators to resolve any issues they may have.