Texas is the latest state to ban downloading and using the TikTok app on government-issued devices. Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday ordered state agencies to implement the ban, citing concerns over the app’s data-sharing practices with the Chinese government.
“TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices … and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” Abbott said in a letter announcing the ban.
TikTok, the popular video streaming app owned by the Chinese company Bytedance, Ltd., has seen similar bans in South Dakota, Maryland, South Carolina, and Nebraska. ByteDance has been facing mounting scrutiny from different aspects of the United Government regarding how it stores and utilizes US user data.
“While TikTok has claimed that it stores US data within the US, the company admitted in a letter to Congress that China-based employees can have access to US data. It has also been reported that ByteDance planned to use TikTok location information to surveil individual American citizens,” Abbott added.
In 2020, then-President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app in the country for this very reason. But President Joe Biden walked back on his predecessor’s efforts but ordered a review of foreign-owned apps to determine whether they pose any security risks.
Abbott’s letter also cites China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law which requires businesses to assist in intelligence gathering including through data-sharing.
The Texas governor’s order covers all government-issued cellphones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and all devices “capable of internet connectivity.” State agencies will also be given a month to set policy on the use of the streaming service on their staff’s personal devices.
TikTok, on the other hand, continues to deny that it shares data with the Chinese government. “The concerns driving these bans are largely fueled by misinformation about our company,” they said in a statement, while Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for North America, said in an interview with CBS News on Wednesday that TikTok collects data similar to other apps.
“Maybe they should consider banning all social media apps from government phones,” Beckerman said.
Earlier in the year, leaked audio recordings from over 80 internal TikTok meetings show that China-based employees of ByteDance, the video platform’s parent company, repeatedly accessed nonpublic data from users in the United States.
Information for this briefing was found via CBS News, The Guardian, and the companies and sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.