TikTok Banned On State Devices In Kentucky

Pressure grows on ByteDance, as Kentucky becomes latest US state to ban popular video app TikTok from governmental devices

Pressure on ByteDance’s TikTok app in the United States continues, with more US states joining the app ban for local government devices.

Reuters reported that Kentucky has joined the more than 20 US states in banning the video-sharing app on government devices citing cybersecurity concerns.

Just before Christmas the US Senate had passed a bill sponsored by Republican Senator Josh Hawley to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government owned devices.

Image credit: US Senate

US bans

Following that the US Congress also passed legislation to ban US government employees from downloading or using TikTok on their government-owned devices.

That ban was part of a spending bill includes the TikTok provision to ban the app on federally managed devices.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed into law the government funding bill that included a ban on federal employees from using or downloading TikTok on government-owned devices.

That law means the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has 60 days “to develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal” of TikTok from federal devices.

State bans

TikTok had already been facing a growing number of US states banning the app on local government devices.

Now Reuters has noted that Kentucky has joined Wisconsin, Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana and South Dakota, plus North Carolina, Ohio, New Jersey, Arkansas and others, to ban TikTok on government devices due to cyber security reasons.

The Wisconsin ban was confirmed by Governor Tony Evers last week.

Some states have gone beyond just targeting China’s TikTok.

New Jersey and Wisconsin for example also banned vendors, products and services from other Chinese companies including Huawei, Hikvision, Tencent (owner of WeChat), ZTE as well as Russia-based Kaspersky Lab.

ByteDance response

TikTok told Reuters it was “disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok.”

It should be noted that most of the US states so far to deliver a TikTok ban have had Republican governors.

But Wisconsin, North Carolina and Kentucky all have Democratic governors.

Security concerns

Calls to ban TikTok from government devices gained steam after US FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November it poses national security risks.

TikTok’s case was not helped, when ByteDance recently admitted that some staff members improperly accessed TikTok user data of two journalists.

Forbes in December also reported that ByteDance had tracked multiple Forbes journalists including some who formerly worked at BuzzFeed “as part of a covert surveillance campaign” aimed at discovering the source of leaks.

In October TikTok had denied a Forbes report that it had ‘targetted’ US citizens, and insisted it did not collect precise GPS location data.

On this side of the pond, the UK Parliament closed down its TikTok account, after just one week of operation.