New York City is the latest jurisdiction to ban TikTok on the phones and devices used by city employees, following US states and government agencies which have recently taken similar measures, according to The New York Times.
This move came after an alert came from NYC Cyber Command which alerted the city’s Mayor Eric Adams that TikTok posed “a security risk to the city’s technical networks,” according to the Mayor's spokesman Jonah Allon in an official statement.
”ensure we are using these platforms in a secure manner.”A New York City Spokesperson, Forbes
Agencies working for the city will have 30 days to remove the app from all devices supplied to employees and accounts run by the city have already edited their bios with the statement, “This account was operated by NYC until August 2023. It is no longer monitored.”
Federal employees are already banned from downloading or accessing Tiktok on government devices after the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2023, included stipulations against such activity on government devices.
TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance has long been suspected of its potential to supply users' personal data to the Chinese government.
The State of Montana recently announced a blanket ban on the app’s use in the state, something which has already been challenged in court under the First Amendment. TikTok refused to comment on the ban when it was reported by Verge.
ByteDance is suspected of giving user data to Chinese authorities
A New York City Spokesperson explained to Forbes magazine that the intention behind the ban is to ”ensure we are using these platforms in a secure manner.” A 2022 report by Forbes concluded that ByteDance had concrete plans to use data harvesting to monitor users' locations in the US, whilst a separate report uncovered hundreds of Tiktok and its parent company's employees having worked at state-controlled Chinese media outlets.
The CEO of Tiktok, Shou Zi Chew appeared before Congress in March where he faced heavy bi-partisan questioning on the matter and claimed to have seen “no evidence” of any such transfer of user data to Chinese authorities.
Unusually this comes on the heels of the viral success of the NYC Department of Sanitation’s TikTok account, which featured an amusing mix of heartwarming content featuring the department's employees as well as memes that engaged the citizenry and connected them with their local officials.