In a move resonating with concerns over potential Chinese espionage, New York City has now prohibited the use of TikTok on its government-issued devices. This fresh mandate, effective immediately, instructs all associated agencies to erase the app from official gadgets within a month. NYC's decision follows a string of similar bans, including those by New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and the U.S. House of Representatives.
Originating from The Verge's report, this decision was influenced by NYC Cyber Command's advice after thorough scrutiny for potential cyber threats. History isn’t far behind with New York State itself banning the app from government devices in 2020.
A cloud of apprehension surrounds TikTok, mainly due to its Chinese roots through ByteDance. While TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew fervently declared that ByteDance holds no allegiance to China, concerns linger.
Montana’s TikTok ban, set for 2024, takes a more aggressive stance. Not just confined to government devices, it could potentially stifle Montanan TikTok enthusiasts. TikTok's response? A legal battle, supported by tech alliances NetChoice and Chamber of Progress, and a separate lawsuit funded by the app, albeit discreetly.
The underlying fear? China's potential clout over its private entities. Instances of Beijing gaining stakes in private companies, reshaping their decision-making apparatus, and vehemently opposing any forced sales, underpin these anxieties.
Despite TikTok's earnest PR efforts and data storage transformations, past blunders loom large. One such incident involved ByteDance's tracking of journalists' IP addresses, an act that resulted in the termination of four employees.
However, this TikTok debacle doesn’t necessarily provide irrefutable proof of espionage. China's tech prowess, evident from its alleged hacking of Microsoft's cloud email, indicates myriad ways Beijing could surveil U.S. operations. The real question is: In the ever-evolving digital realm, can any app truly be deemed safe?