Three More States Ban State Employees From Using TikTok Over Security Concerns, CCP Ties

Three more governors are joining the growing number of states banning employees from using TikTok on state-owned devices.

In separate orders announced Tuesday and Wednesday, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey all prohibited state employees from using the Chinese-owned social media app on devices owned by the state. The three states are the latest to ban the app, following similar moves already made by a half-dozen other states, and bipartisan legislation to ban TikTok in Congress.

“It is clear that TikTok represents a national security risk to our country and I refuse to subject the citizens of Iowa to that risk,” Reynolds said in a statement Tuesday. “They trust us with their personal and confidential information and we will take every step possible to protect it, including from the Chinese government. The safety of Iowans is my number one priority and that includes their cybersecurity.” Reynolds’s order prohibits state agencies from owning or subscribing to a TikTok account and bans the app on state-owned devices.

In a memo to all state agency heads in Alabama, Ivey announced that she had ordered the Secretary of Information Technology to prohibit the app from accessing the state’s IT network and devices, with some exceptions for law enforcement and other critical functions. She also called for state agencies to take steps to prevent TikTok from accessing sensitive state data. “Protecting Alabama’s IT infrastructure from cyber threats is vital to ensuring the safety and success of our State,” Ivey wrote in the memo.

“The computer devices and networks used by our state government house significant amounts significant amounts of Alabamians’ sensitive data. They also ensure the proper functioning of numerous automated government functions.” Ivey pointed to recent reports from national security officials warning about the excessive amounts and types of data the app asks permission to take from a user’s device, as well as parent company ByteDance’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Burgum’s Executive Order went a step further than either Reynolds’s or Ivey’s; in addition to blocking the application from state devices, North Dakota state employees are prohibited from even visiting the TikTok website on state devices. Burgum also announced that his state agencies would be implementing controls to prevent state employees from using the platform. The order also voiced similar concerns about reports from the FBI about the company’s ties to the CCP. It also made mention of federal government efforts to ban the platform.

More than a half-dozen states have already banned state employees from using the Chinese-owned platform from state-owned devices. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts was the first to ban the app on state devices, back in August 2020. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem blocked the app in November of this year. The move set off a chain reaction from other Republican governors; the Republican governors of South Carolina, Maryland, Texas, Utah, and Oklahoma have since banned the app from state devices.

A bipartisan effort to ban the app is also underway in Congress. On Tuesday, Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced legislation to ban TikTok in the U.S. Republican Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher and Democratic Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi unveiled the same bill in the House.

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