TikTok can be used in Singapore government devices only on 'need-to basis': report

There are clear rules to public officers stipulating that only approved apps should be downloaded onto such devices

TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
The TikTok app logo. (PHOTO: Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

SINGAPORE — The Singapore government said that popular social media app TikTok is allowed to be used in government-issued devices only on a "need-to basis".

CNA reported on Friday (17 March) that a spokesperson for the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) said that there are "clear rules stipulating that only approved apps should be downloaded" on such devices, which have security configurations to safeguard data.

“Currently, TikTok is only allowed for use by public officers on a need-to basis, such as for communications officers,” the spokesperson told CNA.

A few Singapore politicians are known to be using TikTok, including Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.

Like many other social media apps, TikTok collects significant amounts of user data, such as birthdays, email addresses and phone numbers. It also tracks users’ likes, shares and search history.

Other countries have also banned TikTok from government devices

TikTok has come under scrutiny, with countries such as the United States, Britain, Canada, Belgium and several EU bodies also banning the app from government devices.

The latest nation to limit the use of the app on government-related devices is New Zealand, which said on Friday it would ban TikTok on devices with access to the country's parliamentary network due to cybersecurity concerns.

Responding to the ban by New Zealand, a TikTok spokesperson expressed disappointment that the decision "was made without consultation with, or notification, to TikTok".

"Data security is of the highest importance to TikTok, and there is no evidence to suggest that TikTok poses a security risk to New Zealanders. We believe it is important that decision making is based on fact, not misinformation," the TikTok spokesperson added.

TikTok is owned by Beijing-headquartered internet company ByteDance. The numerous bans underscore mounting concerns that the app’s user data could end up in the hands of the Chinese government, undermining Western security interests.

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