New Zealand MPs warned not to use TikTok over fears China could access data | New Zealand

New Zealand MPs have been warned against using TikTok, fearing the data could be accessed by the Chinese government.

Last week House Speaker Trevor Mallard warned all parties that MPs should not use the app on their parliamentary phones and devices.

This “could pose a security risk where your device data could be accessed by ByteDance (the owner of TikTok) and the Chinese government,” the email said.

While the Parliamentary Service message said it “strongly recommends” removing the app entirely, if MPs choose to have it they should check the settings to “ensure you are comfortable with the permissions you have granted” and “remove its ability to access your location”.

He recommended a BuzzFeed article from Junewhich reported that non-public US user data was being accessed overseas.

The Guardian viewed the memo, which was first reported by Stuff.

So far, only a few New Zealand politicians have an official presence on TikTok, although the app has become increasingly popular with election candidates in Australia.

The Maori party and its leader, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, have garnered an audience for posting political versions of TikTok trends – such as a subtitled coordinated dance “On the way to discuss with white supremacists”.

The right-wing Libertarian Law party also has a significant number of supporters, displaying regular videos of frontman David Seymour read fanmail and eat fish and chips.

Law spokeswoman Rachel Morton said the party was “aware of the parliamentary service’s concerns. This is why we do not post from a parliamentary service device.

Concerns about TikTok’s security and the company’s proximity to the Chinese state have made it a frequent target of sanctions, bans and warnings.

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump issued an executive order to ban TikTok, citing security concerns and its proximity to the Chinese government, while the Democratic and Republican National Conventions warned staff not to use the app.

Joe Biden announced he would revoke those orders in 2021, but continued a US national security review of TikTok.

In June this year, after BuzzFeed’s report, a number of US senators launched a new campaign to regulate the app, saying, “We need immediate answers from TikTok on its policy on sharing private information of Americans. with the CCP”.

TikTok, which has more than a billion users worldwide, denied causing national security concerns.

This is not the first time New Zealand lawmakers have been warned against enforcement – MPs have been also advised to remove it in 2020. Some New Zealand officials – such as the police – are already banned from using TikTok on work devices.

The Guardian has approached TikTok and Te Pāti Māori for comment.

Lance B. Holton