New Zealand lawmakers ban TikTok over data usage concerns

New Zealand legislators and other national parliament workers will be banned from installing the TikTok app on their government phones.

TONICK PERRY Associated Press

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — On Friday, officials said New Zealand lawmakers and other national parliament workers would be banned from installing the TikTok app on their government phones.

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

However, New Zealand’s ban will only apply to about 500 people in the parliamentary complex, not all civil servants like US and UK bans. Other New Zealand agencies may later decide to impose their own bans.

Global concern about the app has come after warnings from the FBI and other agencies that TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance may be sharing TikTok user data such as browsing history, location and biometric identifiers with China’s authoritarian government.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has said that TikTok is not on his phone.

“I’m not that hip and trendy,” he told reporters.

New Zealand’s move was taken on the advice of government cybersecurity experts, Parliamentary Service chief Rafael González-Montero said.

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

“This decision was made based on the analysis of our own experts and after discussion with our counterparts in government and internationally,” Gonzalez-Montero said in a statement. “Based on this information, the service has determined what the risks are in New Zealand’s current parliamentary environment.”

Hipkins said the cybersecurity advice came from New Zealand’s intelligence agency, the State Communications Security Bureau. He said that New Zealand does not apply a general approach to all government employees and every department or agency should make cybersecurity decisions.

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