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New York City officially bans TikTok on all government devices

New York City banned TikTok on government-owned devices on Wednesday, officials said. Here, the TikTok app logo, shown in Tokyo, on Sept. 28, 2020.
Kiichiro Sato
/
AP
New York City banned TikTok on government-owned devices on Wednesday, officials said. Here, the TikTok app logo, shown in Tokyo, on Sept. 28, 2020.

New York City is joining a wave of federal agencies and states across the U.S. in banning TikTok from government-owned devices, citing security concerns that could be associated with the app.

In a statement sent Thursday to NPR, a New York City Hall spokesperson said that agencies must remove the popular short-form video-sharing app from all government devices within the next 30 days.

City employees will begin to lose access to the TikTok app and its website from all city-owned devices and networks.

"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 spokesperson said in the statement.

The spokesperson told NPR that the city's Cyber Command — the office tasked with protecting New York City's systems against cyber threats — regularly investigates and takes proactive measures to keep New Yorkers' data safe and as a result, determined that TikTok posed a security threat to the city's technical networks.

TikTok did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment on the New York City ban.

Following news of the ban, New York City government accounts on TikTok have since ceased their postings.

The city's sanitation department account — which has more than 47,000 followers — said in its bio that the account "was operated by NYC until August 2023" and that it is "no longer monitored." The New York City Police Department's account, which has more than 267,000 followers, also said it was no longer active as of Thursday.

"Due to a policy change, this account is no longer active. Please follow us on our other social media accounts," the agency wrote in its latest and final post.

New York City joins a long list of places and governing bodies in banning the app across government-owned devices.

In May, Montana became the first state to ban the popular social media app after the state's governor, Greg Gianforte, signed a bill saying he wanted to protect residents' private information from being compromised.

"The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented," Gianforte said.

Montana's ban will go into effect starting Jan. 1, 2024.

In December 2022, Maryland also banned the use of TikTok and certain China and Russia-based platforms in the state's executive branch — as former Gov. Larry Hogan announced a directive to prohibit the platforms' use.

Countries such as New Zealand and Canada took preventative measures in banning TikTok from some government devices earlier this year, citing privacy and data concerns for those who may use the app.

While there is no direct evidence that the Chinese government has ever accessed TikTok user data, TikTok says that it is independent of Chinaand that any user data from the app in the U.S. remains protected.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.
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