On Wednesday, New York City announced a ban on the Chinese app TikTok on public devices. Mayor Eric Adams issued a statement saying public employees had 30 days to remove the platform from all state-owned electronics. In addition, in that same period, all workers will lose access to this social network and its website from any device or network owned by the city.
The decision, a New York City Council spokesperson told The Verge, came after ruling that TikTok "posed a security threat to the city’s technical 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. NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe.
The profiles used by the City Council, reports The New York Times, were the first to apply the measure. As of Wednesday, the TikTok accounts of Mayor Eric Adams, the New York Department of Sanitation and the New York Department of Parks and Recreation were operating normally. However, all of them have changed their biography which, now, shows the following message: "This account was operated by NYC until August 2023. It’s no longer monitored."
Montana and Texas also ban TikTok
New York City thus joins the state of New York which, recalls Times Union, banned the use of TikTok on federal devices earlier this year. However, their ban did not apply to a couple of state public relations platforms that were still allowed to use this application, which explains why several city officials were allowed to use it as long as it was for advertising purposes.
The commitment to the safety of users is the same justification given before states such as Montana or Texas that also banned, months ago, the use of this application on their devices.
Montana was the one that made the most drastic decision with the ban on TikTok. In May, Gov. Greg Gianforte, signed a bill banning the app statewide. The rule is set to take effect on Jan. 1, but the state is facing a lawsuit from the company and TikTok users who say the rule goes against the free speech rights of Montanaans.
Texas also vetoed the app in February of this year. At the time, Gov. Greg Abbott implemented a plan with the goal of banning the app throughout The Lone Star State. In a statement issued by the Republican politician, Abbott again pointed out the questionable security of the data that users gave to the application:
TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity. Other prohibited technologies listed in the statewide model plan also produce a similar threat to the security of Texans. It is critical that state agencies and employees are protected from the vulnerabilities presented by the use of this app and other prohibited technologies as they work on behalf of their fellow Texans.