FILE PICTURE. Illustrative image of a person holding a smartphone while the TikTok logo is displayed behind it. November 7, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

By Lucy Cramer

WELLINGTON, March 17 (Reuters) – New Zealand said on Friday it would ban TikTok on devices with access to its parliamentary network over cybersecurity concerns, becoming the latest country to limit the use of the app. sharing videos on technology-related devices. .

Concerns have been growing around the world about the possibility of the Chinese government accessing users’ location and contact data through ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company.

The extent of those concerns was revealed this week when the Biden administration demanded that the Chinese owners of TikTok divest their stakes or the app could be banned in the United States.

In New Zealand, TikTok will be banned on all devices with access to Parliament’s network at the end of March.

Parliamentary Service Director General Rafael González-Montero said in an email to Reuters that the decision was made after advice from cybersecurity experts and discussions within the government and with other countries.

“Based on this information, the Service has determined that the risks are not acceptable in the current New Zealand parliamentary environment,” he said.

Special arrangements can be made for those who need the app to do their jobs, he added.

ByteDance did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

At a press conference, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said New Zealand was operating differently from other countries.

“Departments and agencies follow the advice of the (Government Communications Security Office) with respect to information and cybersecurity policies. (…). We do not have a general approach for the whole public sector,” Hipkins said.

The New Zealand Defense Force and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Friday they had already banned the use of TikTok on work devices.

A New Zealand Defense Force spokesman said in an email to Reuters the move was a “precautionary approach to protect the safety” of personnel.

On Thursday, Britain banned the app on public sector phones with immediate effect. Government agencies in the United States have until the end of March to remove the app from official devices.

TikTok believes the recent bans are based on “fundamental misconceptions” and are driven by broader geopolitical issues. He added that he had invested more than $1.5 billion in rigorous data security efforts and denies spying allegations.

Responding to a question about the TikTok bans in Britain and New Zealand, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a regular press briefing on Friday that the two countries should ” stop going overboard and abusing the concept of national security and providing a just and non-discriminatory environment for business in all countries”.

(Reporting by Lucy Craymer in Wellington, Lewis Jackson and Renju Jose in Sydney and Josh Ye in Hong Kong; Editing in Spanish by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)

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