It is not looking good for TikTok in the US; a country where it boasts of its biggest market. According to Reuters, state agencies in Louisiana and West Virginia have now joined others in banning the use of the app in state-managed devices over concern that it could be used by China to track Americans and censor content.
Close to 19 US states have now either partially blocked access to TikTok or permanently done so in the last couple of weeks. Last week also, some members of Congress proposed a nationwide ban, joining India, a country that announced a ban on TikTok and tons of other Chinese apps.
Responding to the latest ban, TikTok reiterated a statement per Reuters saying the company was “disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States.”
Earlier in December, South Dakota announced that TikTok has been banned from government-owned devices in the state. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced the ban, describing the app as a threat to national security.
TikTok on several occasions have had to defend itself against allegation of gaining access to classified information; a situation the US government finds worrying. The fact that TikTok is a Chinese owned company does not sit comfortably with the US government, and the South Dakota ban has not come as a surprise to many.
Gov. Noem issued an executive order banning the app from the phones of government officials in the state. The order, which goes into effect immediately, applies to “employees and agencies of the State of South Dakota, including persons and entities who contract with the state, commissions, and authorities or agents thereof.” With this, state employees can no longer download or use TikTok or visit the website on state-owned or state-leased devices,
In July, Buzzfeed reported that ByteDance engineers in China had access to US data as late as January 2022, which raised a lot of concerns, especially among some Republican lawmakers.
Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) raised fears via a letter questioning Chew that officials of TikTok “did not provide truth or forthright answers” in a committee hearing following the Buzzfeed report.