Users of government-issued devices can only use TikTok app on 'need-to basis': SNDGG

"There are clear rules stipulating that only approved apps should be downloaded on such devices," said the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).

Hannah Martens | March 18, 2023, 02:16 PM

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The Singapore government said on Mar. 16, 2023 that the TikTok app is only allowed to be used by public officers on government-issued devices on a "need-to basis".

Responding to Mothership, a spokesperson for the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) said government-issued devices are meant for work and "there are clear rules stipulating that only approved apps should be downloaded on such devices".

"Currently, TikTok is only allowed for use by public officers on a need-to basis, such as for communications officers," said the SNDGG spokesperson.

"Officers are regularly reminded to only download approved apps, and of the importance of sound security practices," the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson also pointed out that other apps are "similarly subject to the same policy", including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Security concerns over TikTok

SNDGG was responding to queries over other governments' security concerns regarding the app — countries such as the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Belgium have banned TikTok from government devices.

The UK announced on Mar. 16, 2023 that its ban comes after a security review that examined the potential vulnerability of government data.

In December 2022, the U.S. banned TikTok on all federal government devices due to worries over user data stored in China that could be accessed by the government there, said The Guardian.

According to Reuters, the U.S. threatened TikTok's Chinese owners to sell their stakes in TikTok or face a possible U.S. ban.

TikTok responds

In response to CNA, a TikTok spokesperson said that there are "a lot of misconceptions" surrounding TikTok's relationship with China.

The spokesperson also clarified: "the Chinese Communist Party has neither direct not indirect control of ByteDance or TikTok".

ByteDance is "not Chinese owned" as 60 per cent of the company is owned by global institutional investors, 20 per cent is owned by the founders, and 20 per cent is owned by employees.

"In line with industry practices, we collect information that users choose to provide to us and information that helps the app function, operate secure, and improve the user experience," the spokesperson stated, adding:

"As we've said before, TikTok has never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we if asked."

Top photo via Unsplash