TikTok banned on government devices over security concerns from Chinese-owned app

Parliamentary Service has banned the popular social media app TikTok on its devices over security concerns.

It comes after several other countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Belgium, and the European Commission banned the Chinese-owned app on government devices.

TikTok will be banned for all devices with access to the Parliamentary network from next month.

Parliamentary Service chief executive Rafael Gonzalez-Montero said the ban comes after advice from its cybersecurity experts.

"Parliamentary Service has informed members and staff the app TikTok will be removed from all devices with access to the parliamentary network. Arrangements can be made for those who require the app to perform their democratic duties," Gonzalez-Montero said on Friday.

"This decision has been made based on our own experts' analysis and following discussion with our colleagues across government and internationally. Based on this information the Service has determined that the risks are not acceptable in the current New Zealand Parliamentary environment."

Last year, Parliamentary Service warned MPs against using TikTok on their work devices due to concerns their data could be accessed by the Chinese government.

The message came from then-Speaker Trevor Mallard via an email from the Parliamentary Service to all political parties.

"The Parliamentary Service strongly recommends you do not use TikTok on your Parliamentary Service devices as it could pose a security risk where data on your devices could be accessed by ByteDance (the owner of TikTok) and the Chinese government," Mallard said.

The email, seen by Newshub, goes on to say if MPs continue to use the app, they should check they are comfortable with the permissions granted to it, remove its ability to access their location, not link it to other social media accounts, ensure it's up-to-date and use a different password to other accounts.

"If using this app on a personal device, you should still be aware of the above suggestions in the interest of keeping your information safe," he added.

The email then provides a link to a Buzzfeed article from June that reported China-based employees of TikTok's owner, the Chinese company ByteDance, had repeatedly accessed the data of US users. ByteDance has ties to the Chinese Government, though TikTok has said it doesn't give it any data.

After that report, TikTok admitted employees outside of the US can access user data, but said that is "subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorisation approval protocols" overseen by a US security team.