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New York City Bans TikTok on Government Devices

TikTok's connection to the Chinese Communist Party has prompted similar bans in states across the country

New York City has prohibited anyone using a government-owned device from using or accessing TikTok, citing concerns about security threats from China.

The ban took immediate effect late Aug. 16. The video-sharing app, which is owned by ByteDance, must be deleted in the next 30 days and employees are prohibited from accessing the company’s website. The ban comes at the recommendation of NYC Cyber Command, which said the popular platform “posed a security threat to the city’s technical networks.”

“While social media is great at connecting New Yorkers with one another and the city, we have to ensure we are always using these platforms in a secure manner,” a New York City Hall spokesperson told The Verge. “NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe.”

TikTok has been banned on devices owned by the state of New York since 2020 by “quietly adopting an internal policy,” per the Times Union. The state government’s policy makes an exception for marketing and public relations purposes. 

Over 20 states banned TikTok on state-owned devices at the end of 2022.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine cited China’s 2017 National Intelligence law, which states “businesses located in China are required to assist the Chinese government in intelligence work, including data sharing with the Chinese Communist Party,” when enacting his state’s ban.

“The State of Ohio will not permit its state-owned or state-leased devices to act as a source to provide information to the CCP,” he wrote.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves expressed similar concerns and said restricting the app on state-owned devices would “better protect [his] state’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure.”

“It’s no secret that the Chinese Communist Party is actively trying to steal U.S. intellectual property and Americans’ personal information,” said Reeves. “It’s a major threat to our national security and critical infrastructure, costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions annually, and jeopardizes American jobs.”

Montana ultimately banned TikTok entirely in May. Under an order from Governor Greg Gianforte, companies that enable Montana residents to use the app within the state can be fined $10,000 per day every time someone accesses or downloads the platform. TikTok sued the state in response, and argued the state government was restricting individual freedom “based on nothing more than fears and falsehoods.”

China exerts great influence on private companies operating there. The government has been known to take a stake in private companies and shape their boards in order to influence decision making,” reports TechCruch. “And China has come out strongly against a potential forced sale of the company — an event that the Chinese government would be within its rights to block, given changes to export rules in late 2020.”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chews testified before Congress in March and denied that the platform’s parent company was an agent for China.

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