United States

House bans TikTok on government devices

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration on Tuesday announced that it is banning TikTok from all House-managed mobile devices “due to a number of security risks.”

House staffers are now barred from downloading TikTok onto House devices and must remove the app from any mobile devices onto which it is currently downloaded, according to a memo from House Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor.

The House now joins a growing number of government entities banning the Chinese-owned social media app from government devices. The Senate earlier in December approved a measure that would ban all federal employees from downloading or using the app on government devices.

Several states, including Texas, Georgia, Maryland, South Dakota, South Carolina and Nebraska, have also banned the app from government devices. The U.S. military has also banned its members from using the app on government devices.

TikTok has faced rising concerns over national security due to Chinese parent company ByteDance. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that the Chinese government could force the company to share the data it collects on its users. 

“We do have national security concerns,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users.” 

The Trump administration had threatened to ban the app completely unless it was sold to an American company, citing potential security and privacy threats. President Biden reversed Trump’s efforts to ban the app, but ordered a government review of foreign-owned apps, and whether they pose any security risks.

Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, has previously claimed the security concerns are overstated, but said that it “makes for good politics.” He said TikTok collects less data than other social media apps and is also working to move user data to servers in the U.S. — out of reach of China. 

“This would be the firewall,” Beckerman said. “Nothing is bulletproof, but for the concerns that are being raised on this, yeah, this is bulletproof.” 

Kathryn Watson, Jeff Pegues and Scott MacFarlane contributed reporting.

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