New York City becomes the latest to ban TikTok from all government devices as security concerns over the platform’s Chinese ownership persist.
On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration issued a ban on short-form video social app TikTok from all government devices, requiring all city employees and departments to remove the app from government-issued phones and computers immediately within 30 days. NYC Cyber Command, an entity focusing on cyber threats for the NYC Office of Technology and Innovation, recommended the ban following a recent security review.
“Other state-sponsored governments, meaning governments that are (…) somewhat threatening to the United States, (are) utilizing TikTok on several platforms to either extrapolate our personal information to gain intelligence on us or to use the application for disinformation,” said former FBI agent Stuart Kaplan.
“While social media is great at connecting New Yorkers with one another in the city, we have to make sure we are always using these platforms in a secure manner,” a City Hall spokesperson told NBC New York.
New York City is just the latest government entity to ban TikTok from all government-owned devices, joining the state and federal governments and other states like New Jersey, Ohio, Montana, Georgia, and Texas. The state of New York issued a ban against TikTok on government devices in 2020.
In December, the U.S. House of Representatives banned TikTok from government devices, and the Biden administration recently escalated a pressure campaign against the platform to encourage TikTok to separate from its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance.
Meanwhile, some members of Congress have pushed for years to have the app banned entirely, citing the risks to Americans’ data. While the Chinese government does not outright own TikTok’s owner ByteDance, it falls within the government’s jurisdiction should China request any of the company’s data.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew denied any ties to China’s government as he testified before Congress in March over concerns that the country’s government could leverage the platform to compromise America’s national security.
Despite TikTok’s public relations campaign in the U.S. and efforts to change how it stores user data, the company continues putting its proverbial foot in its mouth. Last year, TikTok confirmed earlier reports that ByteDance employees tracked journalists’ IP addresses through the app in an effort to mitigate internal leaks. To sweep it under the rug, ByteDance fired four employees.