The U.S. House of Representatives has issued an order for its staff and lawmakers to delete TikTok from government-issued mobile devices due to security concerns.
The Chief Administrative Officer of the House, Catherine Szpindor, had previously warned that the app posed a high risk to users due to various security issues.
According to a memo sent by Szpindor on Tuesday and obtained by NBC News, the use of TikTok on House mobile devices is strictly prohibited. Staff who have already downloaded the app on their House devices will be contacted and instructed to remove it.
This ban is the latest in a series of measures taken by U.S. state governments to remove TikTok from government devices. The actions are taken due to potential data collection, the potential for Chinese government surveillance of Americans, and the possibility that the app’s algorithm could censor and influence what users see on the platform. TikTok is developed by the Chinese tech company ByteDance.
What are government-issued devices?
Government-issued devices are electronic devices provided to government employees or officials by their agency or department. These devices may be used for various purposes, such as communication, data storage and analysis, and access to government systems and resources. Examples of government-issued devices include laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices.
Government-issued devices are typically provided to employees as part of their job duties and are intended for use during work. They may be issued to employees who work in various fields, including law enforcement, public safety, military, and other government agencies. Government-issued devices may be owned by the government agency or department and are typically subject to strict security protocols and policies to protect sensitive data and systems.
As of last week, 19 states, including Texas, Georgia, Maryland, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Nebraska, have implemented partial bans on TikTok on state-managed devices due to concerns that the Chinese government could use the app to track Americans and censor content. The U.S. military has also banned using TikTok on government devices by service members due to concerns about the potential exposure of personal data to unauthorized parties.
A provision to ban TikTok on all federally managed devices was included in a $1.66 trillion federal omnibus spending bill passed last week, which will become law once President Joe Biden signs it. In response to the bill, TikTok stated that the measure is a political gesture that will not further national security interests.
There are also ongoing efforts to ban TikTok from consumer devices in the United States. Earlier this month, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) proposed legislation that would ban TikTok nationwide. When introducing the bipartisan bill, Rubio stated that the app gives the Chinese government “a unique ability to monitor more than 1 billion users worldwide, including nearly two-thirds of American teenagers.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media platform and mobile app that allows users to create and share short-form videos, typically set to music ranging from 15 seconds to one minute. The app was created in China by the tech firm Bytedance, but it has gained worldwide popularity since its launch in 2016. TikTok is free on the App Store and Google Play and can be used on various devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Users of TikTok can create and edit their videos, as well as browse and interact with content created by other users. The app includes various features and tools to help users create engaging and creative videos, such as filters, effects, and music tracks. TikTok also has a wide range of popular music and sound bites that users can incorporate into their videos.
TikTok has become particularly popular among younger users and has been used to create and share a wide range of content, including lip-syncing videos, dance and comedy sketches, and more. The app has also gained a reputation for being a breeding ground for internet trends and memes, as users share and create content that often goes viral.