TikTok junkies who are using their New York City-owned phones to watch cat memes are going to have to find something else to do with their time, it seems. The city has apparently decided that it is going to ban TikTok from all city-owned devices and has already told agencies that they have to get people to remove the app from phones and other hardware within the next 30 days.
The news comes as part of a directive that was issued on Wednesday and follows a review by the NYC Cyber Command. It was then decided that TikTok poses a security threat to the networks of New York City and that the ban will start immediately. That means that employees can no longer download or use the app even if it's already there, while the 30-day timeframe for uninstalling the app is also now underway.
In a statement to The Verge, a New York City Hall spokesperson said that NYC Cyber Command regularly takes proactive actions to "keep New Yorkers' data safe." The city also cited US Office of Management and Budget guidelines that discourage TikTok being used on government devices including federal legislation that already banned the app earlier this year, The Verge reports.
New York City isn't the first to go this route of course and it is unlikely that it will be the last. There continues to be concern that TikTok and developer ByteDance could find themselves handing over data to the Chinese government, with that data being collected from American users. Things get even more muddy when you consider that the TikTok app could be running on devices that also carry sensitive data, using Wi-Fi networks that are also used for the transmission of information that shouldn't find its way into Chinese hands.
Whether any of that is likely or even possible is a matter for debate of course, but it's a worry that has seen TikTok become a hot topic among the US government and lawmakers. The video-based social network is hugely popular around the globe and has become the go-to for a whole generation of users. Quite where ByteDance and TikTok go from here, we will have to wait and see. But it looks increasingly unlikely that those making these kinds of decisions in the United States are going to backdown, whether rightly or wrongly.
It's important to note that this only affects work devices of course. People can continue to use TikTok on personal devices, although probably not when connected to corporate networks.