New York City has joined a growing number of jurisdictions in banning the popular social media platform TikTok on government devices. The ban, which went into effect immediately, requires city agencies to remove TikTok from city-owned devices within 30 days and prohibits employees from using the app on those devices. The decision comes after a review by the city's Cyber Command office, which determined that the app poses a security threat to the city's technical networks.
This move follows a similar ban by New York State three years ago, although that ban was not reported until April of this year. The ban is intended to ensure the secure use of these platforms, according to a spokesperson for New York City Hall. Meanwhile, the TikTok account for New York City Mayor Eric Adams displayed a message stating that the account is no longer monitored by the city.
TikTok has faced increasing scrutiny over concerns about Chinese surveillance and its parent company ByteDance's alleged ties to the Chinese government. A Forbes report in October 2022 revealed ByteDance's plans to monitor the locations of U.S. users, including Forbes journalists, through TikTok data. Additionally, an August 2022 report found that hundreds of employees at TikTok and ByteDance had previously worked at Chinese state media outlets.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew defended the platform during a congressional hearing in March, stating that he has seen "no evidence" of Beijing accessing user data. He also claimed that the company has implemented measures to protect U.S. user data from foreign access. However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, questioned Chew about ties to Chinese surveillance.
The ban on TikTok has been enacted at various levels of government, including federal, state, and local. Congress approved a TikTok ban on federal devices in December, and President Joe Biden signed it into law. The Biden administration also threatened to ban the app in the U.S. unless its China-based owners sold their shares of ByteDance. Additionally, numerous colleges and universities have banned TikTok on campus Wi-Fi.
In a surprising move, lawmakers in Montana passed a bill banning TikTok throughout the state, making it the strictest state ban on the app. However, enforcement of the ban remains unclear due to challenges related to TikTok users disguising their locations and ongoing legal issues. Republican Governor Greg Gianforte praised the legislation as a means to protect personal and private data from the Chinese Communist Party.