TikTok logo displayed on a smartphone with TikTok logo displayed in the background.

New York City Imposes TikTok Ban on Government-Owned Devices

The latest jurisdiction to ban TikTok in an attempt to protect its data security

New York City is the latest jurisdiction to implement a TikTok ban from government-owned devices due to security concerns, effectively immediately. New York City agencies must remove the app within 30 days, reports The New York Times, and employees will lose access to TikTok online and from city-owned devices and networks. The directive prohibits city employees from downloading the popular short-form video app or accessing the TikTok website from any city-owned devices. TikTok is used by tens of millions of Americans.

“While social media is great at connecting New Yorkers with one another and the city, we have to ensure we are always using these platforms in a secure manner,” a city spokesperson told The Verge last week. “NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe.”

The ban includes TikTok accounts that city agencies previously operated on behalf of the city. For example, the city’s sanitation department’s TikTok account had more than 47,000 followers. The account shared videos of their workers and memes which received kudos from Curbed and Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch. That account is “no longer monitored,” and the New York City Police Department which boasts more than 267,000 followers is no longer active, according to NPR.

NYC joins other agencies and jurisdictions in TikTok ban

To date, many countries have imposed partial or complete bans of the TikTok app, citing security concerns, reports Mashable. Those countries include:

  • Afghanistan – The Taliban banned TikTok in April 2022.
  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • India – A nationwide ban was imposed in 2020, along with 58 other Chinese apps.
  • The Netherlands – Though not officially banned, Dutch officials have been directed not to use TikTok.
  • New Zealand
  • Norway – The country cited Russia and China as potential risks when evaluating Norway’s security.
  • Somalia – The country banned TikTok “over concerns of terror-related content.”
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom – The UK imposed a ban to protect potentially sensitive data stored on government devices.
  • United States – Though a nationwide ban has not yet been imposed, former President Trump and President Biden have threatened to ban TikTok if parent company ByteDance doesn’t sell the app.

In addition, more than 30 states have banned TikTok from government devices. New York State was the first state to impose a TikTok ban on government-owned devices in 2020, reports ZDNet. Most other jurisdictions banned TikTok on government devices, but Montana took the bold step of banning TikTok entirely in their state. This ban prompted legal action from citizens who said the TikTok ban violated their free speech rights. TikTok also sued the State of Montana for the ban which is to take effect January 1, 2024. According to a recent poll by Reuters/Ipsos, nearly half of all Americans favor a TikTok ban.

What’s the big deal?

To quote Jerry Seinfeld, “What’s the big deal?” TikTok’s parent company is ByteDance which is based in Beijing. Governments around the world are fearful that TikTok can access sensitive data that can used by the Chinese government. According to TikTok’s privacy policy, users agree to share their account and profile information, user-generated content they upload to the app, direct messages, information used in making purchases via the app, contacts, IP address, time zone, device IDs, network type, device model, approximate location and, when permission is given, a user’s exact location.

According to ZDNet, former ByteDance executive Yintao “Roger” Yu, the Chinese government has the ability to access – and has accessed – TikTok user data. Even if the user data is housed in the US, the Chinese government can still gain access. Of course, ByteDance and TikTok say that all allegations are unfounded, and they are being treated unfairly.

TikTok LIVE subscription

For most users, TikTok is free. They also have a subscription component – TikTok LIVE. TikTok launched this monthly subscription last year so users could show their appreciation for their favorite LIVE creators. Subscribers get access to exclusive benefits, decided by the creator. For example, a creator may offer Subscriber Badgets, Subscriber-Only LIVEs, Custom Emojis and Subscriber-Only chats. A TikTok ban could potentially impact income from the TikTok LIVE subscription.

Insider Take

A TikTok ban in any jurisdiction is a complex, nuanced situation, but more than half of US states have banned the social media app and now the nation’s largest city has seen the merits of banning TikTok from city-owned devices. While both sides have valid arguments, it is ultimately up to each jurisdiction to decide what is best to protect itself and its people from data security issues. Which jurisdiction will be next?

Copyright © 2023 Authority Media Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

Up Next

Register Now For Email Subscription News Updates!

Search this site

You May Be Interested in:

Join us to master the latest subscription business strategies, from emerging payment trends