Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday ordered state agencies to ban TikTok on government-issued devices, citing security concerns of the app’s data-sharing practices with the Chinese Government, The Guardian reported.
“TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices – including when, where and how they conduct Internet activity – and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” according to one of the letters the governor sent to state agency leaders.
“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,” it added.
According to The Guardian, the letter also cited China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, stating that businesses are required to assist China in intelligence work including data sharing. It recounted that TikTok’s algorithm had already censored topics politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including the Tiananmen Square protests.
Texas isn’t the only state that has become wary of TikTok. The New York Times reported that Indiana’s attorney general on Wednesday sued the Chinese-owned app TikTok for deceiving users about China’s access to their data and for exposing children to mature content, in the first state lawsuits against the popular video service.
According to The New York Times, Todd Rokita, Indiana’s attorney general, claimed that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, violated state consumer protection laws by failing to disclose the Chinese government’s ability to tap sensitive consumer information. His office said in a separate complaint that TikTok deceived young users and their parents with its age rating of 12-plus in Apple’s and Google’s app stores, when in fact inappropriate sexual and substance-related content can be easily found are are pushed by the company to children using the app.
The Hill reported that both of the lawsuits from Indiana and Texas seek to prevent TikTok from continuing its allegedly deceptive practices and demand civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.
Texas and Indiana aren’t the only states who are cracking down on TikTok. The Guardian reported that governor Abbott’s orders follow in the footsteps of Maryland governor Larry Hogan, who on Tuesday also ordered the ban of TikTok and several other China and Russia-based platforms in the state’s executive government branch. Wisconsin’s Republican representatives in Congress on Tuesday called for governor Tony Evers to delete TikTok from all state government devices, calling it a national security threat.
The Verge reported that Republican governors North Dakota and South Dakota have also banned the use of TikTok on governmental devices. The Army, Navy, and Departments of Homeland Security and State have also banned use of the app on government-issued devices.
In short, it appears that several states have started banning TikTok on government devices, and two states have filed lawsuits against TikTok. My advice to content creators who primarily post on TikTok is to find a different platform to post their videos on, just in case TikTok gets banned.