Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) issued an executive order banning the use of TikTok on government devices on Monday, the latest in a wave of states pushing to ban the app, owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, on grounds of national security.
Cox’s executive order cites warnings that the Chinese government could use TikTok to obtain “sensitive” and “proprietary” information and prohibits anyone hired by the state government from downloading or using TikTok on a state-owned device.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) ordered all Texas state agencies not to use TikTok on government-issued devices in a similar decision issued last week, noting that the app “collects large amounts of data from the devices of its users” and “and offers this treasure trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) cited the same concerns when she banned TikTok on government devices last month, arguing that the “growing threat to national security posed by TikTok” required a ban to “protect data private property of the citizens of South Dakota”.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) also banned any apps developed by TikTok, as well as Chinese companies Huawei Technologies, Tencent Holdings and Alibaba and Russian company Kaspersky in an emergency cybersecurity directive last week.
Several Republican members of Congress from Wisconsin urged Gov. Tony Evers (D) to ban TikTok on Wisconsin government devices last week, declaring TikTok “nefarious Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spyware that monitors American citizens.” in a letter that was supported by a Forbes article reporting ByteDance planned to monitor the location of US citizens and a New York Times Article suggesting that the app can track user keystrokes.
Meanwhile, the office of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) said in a statement this week to local station WKRN that it has taken steps to ban TikTok on any personal or state-owned device connected to the state network, after the Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) suggested that the app steals user information.
Virginia State Sen. Ryan McDougle told a local outlet last week that he plans to introduce a bill banning the app next month, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called for a statewide ban. as “absolutely appropriate, although McDougle said that the “Best case scenario would be for [Gov. Glenn Youngkin] issue an executive order to make it happen immediately” (Youngkin’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes).
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Following the letter sent to Evers, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R) told WISN that he plans to propose a nationwide ban on TikTok in a bipartisan bill this week, adding that “there is a lot of Republican support. We are slowly bringing in fellow Democrats.”
FBI Director Chris Wray said TikTok could “technically compromise” American devices in a statement last month, according to Reuters, adding “the possibility that the Chinese government could use [TikTok] controlling the data collection of millions of users or controlling the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations” is a risk.
In response to Wray’s comments, a TikTok spokesperson noted that “the FBI information is being considered as part of our ongoing negotiations with the US government. While we cannot comment on the details of those confidential discussions, we are confident that we are on track to fully satisfy all reasonable national security concerns.”
TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, have been continually associated with potential national security risks following an order by former President Donald Trump banning downloads of the app and WeChat in 2020. A statement sent out by the US Department of Commerce. The US cited that the app has the means to “threat the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the US.” President Joe Biden then revoked Trump’s executive order the following year while promoting a security review of the app, among others, according to the Washington Post.
an exclusive Forbes The report found that Chinese government-run TikTok accounts attacked US politicians ahead of the midterm elections while promoting divisive social issues without disclosing that the accounts were run by a foreign government.
TikTok Banned on State Government Devices in South Dakota: Will Other States Follow suit? (Forbes)
TikTok Parent ByteDance planned to use TikTok to monitor the physical location of specific US citizens (Forbes)