TikTok, a well-known application for short-form videos, has drawn attention from around the world. The most recent entity to impose app usage restrictions is New York City. It has instructed its staff to remove TikTok from phones acquired from the city. By doing this, they join the federal government and more than half of the states in prohibiting the use of the Chinese-owned social media app on government-provided electronic devices. A 30-day deadline has been set by the New York City Cyber Command, a part of the City’s Office of Technology and Innovation, for city employees to quit using TikTok. The division has found that the app puts the city’s technical networks at risk of security. In the previous year, Congress had moved to outlaw TikTok on federal devices, and several states have followed suit.
TikTok-U.S. Hot Waters
In December 2022, the US House of Representatives approved a bill that prohibited the use of TikTok on official equipment. Additionally, the Biden Administration intensified its lobbying campaigns against the app earlier this year to get TikTok to renounce its Chinese heritage and break ties with its parent business ByteDance. This has distinguished the app from other American social media behemoths. Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s CEO, gave testimony before Congress as well. He put up with five hours of intense grilling from senators who were worried that China was using the app’s user data to jeopardize national security.
In response to worries that TikTok’s parent business, ByteDance, was sharing user data with the Chinese government and spying on Americans, the federal government ordered the staff to uninstall the app from government-issued cell phones earlier this year. Similar prohibitions were established in more than 25 states.
NYC bans Tiktok
Due to its connections to China and how it manages user data, TikTok has come under fire from American politicians. As a result of the political response, Montana passed a bill that essentially outlawed the app beginning in 2024. The Montana statute was challenged by TikTok, who claimed that it violated the First Amendment. The platform asserted that claims that the Chinese government had access to user data on TikTok were unfounded.
Since 2020, TikTok use on state-owned phones has been forbidden in New York, with a few exceptions for advertising channels. Officials from TikTok have stated that there is no basis for concern about cybersecurity risks associated with the app’s use. A few New York Public Relations platforms were nevertheless permitted under the policy to use the app for marketing. The software is now prohibited on state-owned devices in 30 states.
Three years after New York State discreetly imposed a comparable restriction on government devices in 2020, New York City has decided to limit TikTok to city-owned devices. The city cited federal laws imposed to outlaw the app, as well as U.S. Office of Management and Budget recommendations limiting its usage on government-owned devices. New York City’s actions are now consistent with those of the federal government. Although TikTok had previously outlined its plans to guarantee the security of U.S. user data, little has been done to quench the fears of the lawmakers.
Here’s what they said
Jonah Allon, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement,
While social media is great at connecting New Yorkers and the city, we have to ensure we are always securely using these platforms. NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe.
Scott Reif, a spokesperson for the state Office of Information and Technology stated,
We seek to meet people where they are and remain vigilant in protecting critical state assets, and urge New Yorkers to use caution when using TikTok and all social media platforms to protect their privacy and security.
Three years ago, TikTok and 49 other Chinese apps were first blocked in India, one of the pioneering nations to do so. Following suit, earlier this year New Zealand and Canada implemented preventative measures to block TikTok from some government-owned devices. They explained it away to app users’ privacy and data worries. Social networking applications are feeling the heat of public outrage as privacy and user information issues persist. The user policies of apps like Zoom, Google, and others had to be updated to comply with the constantly evolving legal framework governing technology. We’ll have to wait and see what happens with TikTok in the US and the business.