New York City Bans TikTok On Government-Issued Devices

New York City becomes the latest government to issue new rules banning TikTok, a measure meant to ward off potential security threats from China, TechCrunch reported.

According to TechCrunch, the state of New York also issued its own ban against TikTok on government devices in 2020. Many other states have issued their own bans in recent years, including New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Georgia.

The U.S. House of Representatives banned the use of TikTok on government devices in December. Earlier this year, the Biden administration escalated its own pressure campaign against the app in an effort to force TikTok to part ways with its Chinese ownership.

In May, Montana governor Greg Gianforte signed a law that bans TikTok in the state, effective starting in 2024. Unlike other state-level action, the ban is not limited to government-issued devices and would also limit normal users’ access to the popular app.

The Verge reported New York City is banning TikTok from city-owned devices and requiring agencies to remove the app within the next 30 days.

According to The Verge, the directive issued Wednesday comes after a review by the NYC Cyber Command, which a city official said that TikTok “posed a security threat to the city’s technical networks.” Staring immediately, city employees are barred from downloading or using the app and accessing TikTok’s website from any city-owned devices.

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

Engadget reported that NYC Cyber Command, a subset of the Office of Technology and Innovation, spurred the decision after reporting to the city that TikTok posed a security threat. “NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe, a City Hall spokesperson said. “As part of ongoing efforts, NYC Cyber Command determined that the TikTok application posed a security threat to the city’s technical networks and directed its removal from city-owned devices.”

Politico reported some background on this situation, noting that New York City is relatively late to the game. More than 30 states have barred employees from using TikTok on government devices, including the state of New York, which quietly adopted the policy in 2020.

Personally, I think it is a good idea to ban TikTok from government devices, because it could potentially be a security risk. That said, I don’t see why Montana decided to ban TikTok from the phones of people who are not part of the government. I think the state went to far with that.