Saturday, August 6, 2022

Why New Zealand told MPs to delete ‘security risk’ TikTok

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MPs in New Zealand have been warned against using TikTok at work and urged to delete the app entirely over fears the Chinese government could access their data.

A message sent to all parties last week by House Speaker Trevor Mallard warned MPs not to use the social media platform on their parliamentary phones and devices as “it could pose a security risk”.

“The Parliamentary Service strongly advises you not to use TikTok on your Parliamentary Service devices, as it could pose a security risk if ByteDance (owner of TikTok) and the Chinese government could access data on your devices,” reads the Parliamentary Policy Australian media reports.

The speaker also recommended MPs delete TikTok from their official phones, but added that if MPs still want to keep it, they should check the settings to “make sure you’re happy with the permissions you’ve granted.” and “remove its ability to access your location”, The guard reported, citing the memo.

Several reports in the past have warned that the platform collects huge amounts of personal information from its users. Privacy concerns led to the app being banned by the Donald Trump administration in the US, while several other countries like India followed suit.

The latest revelation about the privacy concerns had come in the form of a Buzzfeed report in June that said China-based ByteDance employees were repeatedly able to access American users’ private data due to leaked audio from internal TikTok meetings.

TikTok denies that outside parties can access its data and claims that it has robust security measures in place.

Around 1 million people in New Zealand are believed to be TikTok users, while the app has a billion active users worldwide.

Many New Zealand politicians have a presence on the platform and have large followings, including those from the Maori Party and the right-wing libertarian Act Party.

This isn’t the first time lawmakers have been warned about the app. MPs have previously been advised to delete TikTok in 2020. The Kiwi government also bans some of its officials, like police officers, from using TikTok.

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