TikTok has been banned from government-owned devices in the US state of South Dakota. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced the ban on Wednesday, 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, CNET reports.
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.
TikTok continues to reassure authorities; the Republicans in particular that data of US citizens is safe. For the umpteenth time, TikTok a couple of months ago, again assured the US authorities that data of US citizens in its server is safe. The company issued the latest assurances a couple of days ago following a recent call made by a leader of the Federal Communications Commissions, Brenden Carr.
Carr had written a letter to Google and Apple via Twitter, asking the two tech companies to remove TikTok from their respective stores.
In a letter addressed to nine Republican critics, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew explained how the Chinese-owned app planned to separate American user data from ByteDance. Recall that TikTok had a couple of weeks ago, pledged to house US user data on Oracle servers.
“We’re proud to be able to serve a global community of more than a billion people who use TikTok to creatively express themselves and be entertained,” Chew wrote in the letter as first reported by The New York Times. “We know we are among the most scrutinized platforms from a security standpoint, and we aim to remove any doubt about the security of U.S. user data.”