Governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama join GOP colleagues in banning TikTok for state employees

Governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama join GOP colleagues in banning TikTok for state employees

The Republican governors of three more states have joined the growing number of GOP governors who are banning TikTok among state government employees amid security concerns about the Chinese-owned social media platform.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds each signed executive orders in the past two days to ban the app from state-owned devices. Republican governors in Maryland, South Dakota, Texas and Utah have already taken action to ban TikTok for state employees’ devices.

Ivey said in a memorandum sent to state employees on Tuesday that the data that TikTok, which is owned by a Chinese parent company, collects could be subject to Chinese laws allowing it to be shared with the Chinese Communist Party.

She said she has asked the state’s secretary of information technology to update their agency’s policies to prevent TikTok from accessing the state IT network and state IT devices, with exceptions for law enforcement and other essential government uses of the app.

Burgum said in a release announcing his executive order banning the app for state-owned devices that the order prohibits executive branch agencies and their employees from visiting TikTok’s website or downloading the app while using a state-owned device or connected to the state network.

“Protecting citizens’ data is our top priority, and our IT professionals have determined, in consultation with federal officials, that TikTok raises multiple flags in terms of the amount of data it collects and how that data may be shared with and used by the Chinese government,” he said.

Reynolds’s order bans TikTok on state-owned devices and prohibits state agencies from subscribing to or owning an account.

“It is clear that TikTok represents a national security risk to our country and I refuse to subject the citizens of Iowa to that risk,” Reynolds said in a release.

A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement that the company is disappointed with the states’ actions.

“We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the bandwagon to enact policies based on unfounded, politically charged falsehoods about TikTok,” they said. “It is unfortunate that the many state agencies, offices, and universities on TikTok in those states will no longer be able to use it to build communities and connect with constituents.”

The spokesperson said it is “categorically false” that TikTok would share information with the Chinese Communist Party. They added that the company does not gather information like voice or face data or track people’s locations.

They said comments that FBI Director Christopher Wray made earlier this month expressing concerns about TikTok were hypothetical and the company is working with the federal government to strengthen its data protection policies.

TikTok has accumulated more than 100 million users in the United States and gained widespread popularity among young people, but officials have raised concerns about data security on the app. One Federal Communications Commission member told Axios that Congress should ban it over concerns that user data could be turned over to the Chinese government.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) have introduced a bill that would ban TikTok in the U.S.

This story was updated at 2:29 p.m.

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