New York City bans TikTok on government devices, citing security concerns

New York City has joined the growing list of government bodies taking measures to restrict the use of TikTok on government-owned devices.

The decision, driven by security concerns, marks the latest move in the ongoing scrutiny over TikTok’s ties to China and its data handling practices.

The news was reported by The Verge on Wednesday (August 16), citing a directive issued by the local government.

The NYC Cyber Command, a segment of the city’s Office of Technology & Innovation, revealed that an immediate ban has been imposed on the use of TikTok by city employees on their government devices. The decision was based on a comprehensive security assessment that highlighted potential risks the app could pose to the city’s technical networks, the report said.

“While social media is great at connecting New Yorkers with one another and the city, we have to ensure we are always using these platforms in a secure manner,” a New York City Hall spokesperson was quoted by The Verge as saying.

“While social media is great at connecting New Yorkers with one another and the city, we have to ensure we are always using these platforms in a secure manner.”

Spokesperson, New York City Hall

“NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe,” the spokesperson added.

The city’s directive aligns with guidelines from the US Office of Management and Budget discouraging TikTok’s presence on government devices, as well as recent federal legislation that further restricted the app’s usage.

The ban on TikTok on city-owned devices follows a similar move made by the state of New York in 2020, where TikTok was barred from government-issued devices through an internal policy.

Other US states, including Montana, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Georgia, have also implemented bans on TikTok for government-owned devices. The White House has also imposed a similar ban as the Biden administration has been applying pressure on TikTok to address national security concerns and its ties to China.

TikTok has engaged in lobbying efforts in the US in a push to maintain its presence within the United States.

In response to concerns surrounding the possibility of the Chinese government accessing user data via TikTok or exerting control over platform content, TikTok has introduced several strategic initiatives. One such initiative is the introduction of ‘Project Texas,’ a scheme aimed at isolating data of US users on servers managed by Oracle in Texas.

The company has established a new subsidiary dedicated to the management of its US data.

TikTok CEO Shou Chew in March said “almost half” of the US population use the TikTok app and a ban would damage the US economy.

“We do not believe that a ban that hurts American small businesses, damages the country’s economy, silences the voices of over 150 million Americans, and reduces competition in an increasingly concentrated market is the solution to a solvable problem,” Chew said. 

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