New Zealand to become the latest country to ban TikTok in parliament

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

Led by the United States, a growing number of Western nations are imposing restrictions on the use of TikTok on government devices, citing national security concerns.

Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, chief executive of New Zealand’s Parliamentary Service, said in a statement on Friday that the risks of keeping the video-sharing app are “unacceptable”.

“This decision was made on the basis of the analysis of our own experts and after discussions with our colleagues in government and internationally,” he wrote.

“Following 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 “discharge their democratic duties” could get an exception, he said.

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

IIn an email to lawmakers seen by CNN, Gonzalez-Montero told lawmakers 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 directed lawmakers to uninstall the app from their personal devices, adding that failure to comply could result in them being unable to access the parliamentary network.

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

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“I — and IPAC as a whole — have had serious privacy concerns for some time,” he said, adding that TikTok’s responses to its previous data security requests have been “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 leadership.

New Zealand’s decision followed similar measures already taken by its western allies, despite the country’s track record of being more cautious in its dealings with Beijing, partly because China is such a key trading partner.

The United States, Britain and Canada have ordered the app’s removal from all government phones, citing cybersecurity concerns.

All three countries are part of the so-called “Five Eyes” alliance, which works together to collect and share information. Australia and New Zealand make up the five.

The Chinese video-sharing app is also blocked in all three main European Union government institutions.

Tik Tok has become one of the most successful social media platforms in the world and is very popular with younger people.

The short video sharing app has more than 100 million users in the US alone.

New Zealand’s latest move comes just hours after TikTok acknowledged that the Biden government had threatened to ban its operations nationwide unless its Chinese owners agreed to spin off their stake in 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 into handing out the personal information of TikTok’s US users, which could then benefit Chinese intelligence activities or influence campaigns.

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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 he feared the Chinese government could use TikTok to sway public opinion if China invaded Taiwan, the self-governing island over which Beijing has sovereignty claimed, although it never ruled them.

TikTok has repeatedly denied posing any security risk and has agreed to work with regulators to address any concerns.

CNN’s Michelle Toh contributed to this story.


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