South Dakota bans TikTok from state-owned devices

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order barring government employees, agencies, and contractors from downloading and using TikTok on state-owned devices. In her office’s announcement, Noem said she issued the order due to growing security concerns that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) used the social media app to collect information from American users and use it to manipulate them . The order is already in effect and also bans government workers from visiting the TikTok website in browsers.

“South Dakota will not engage in intelligence operations by nations that hate us,” Noem said. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information it collects on TikTok to manipulate the American people and it collects data from the devices that access the platform.”

US officials have raised security concerns about TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, in recent years, believing the Chinese government is using it to collect data. In 2020, then-President Trump attempted to block TikTok and WeChat in the US. While that wasn’t entirely effective, nearly the entire US military had banned the app on government-issued devices, calling TikTok a “cybersecurity threat.” A couple of Republican senators also introduced legislation that same year that would ban all government employees from using TikTok on work-issued smartphones.

Recently, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr asked Apple and Google to remove the app from their stores after a BuzzFeed News Report emerged that China-based ByteDance employees repeatedly accessed private information of US users. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew assured Republican senators in a letter after the report was released that the company is working with Oracle to protect its US users’ data “with robust, independent oversight.” He also said that TikTok is working to fully switch to Oracle cloud servers in the US in order to be able to wipe US users’ data from its own systems.

But Chew’s reassurances weren’t enough to allay officials’ fears: FBI Director Chris Wray warned US lawmakers earlier this month that the Chinese government could use TikTok to “influence operations” through its recommendation algorithm to launch or millions of devices to be “technically compromised”. This was announced by a TikTok spokesman Reuters that the “FBI’s contribution will be considered part of this [the company’s] ongoing negotiations with the U.S. government.” They added that TikTok is confident it is “on track to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns” after meeting with the U.S. Foreign Investment Committee in recent months States had worked together.

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