- New Jersey and Ohio are the latest states to ban TikTok on government-owned devices.
- More than 20 states have now banned the video-sharing app on government devices.
- FBI director Chris Wray warned that TikTok could collect user information for espionage operations.
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New Jersey and Ohio are the latest US states to ban TikTok on government devices over fears of Chinese surveillance, joining at least 20 others amid growing concerns about its safety.
New Jersey’s governor Phil Murphy announced a cybersecurity order on Monday, to “prohibit the use of high-risk software and services,” on government owned devices. This order included the use of TikTok.
Meanwhile Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued an executive order the same day, banning the use of any application, platform or website “owned by an entity located in China,” on state owned devices.
New Jersey outlined a list of software vendors, products, and services to ban, particularly Chinese-owned firms. This included TikTok’s parent company Bytedance Ltd, Huawei Technologies, WeChat and Alibaba products. The ban also extended to Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.
It said that analysis of TikTok found that the platform collects keystrokes of users, takes frequent screen captures, accesses data from phones, and gathers other sensitive user information like passwords.
“Bolstering cybersecurity is critical to protecting the overall safety and welfare of our state,” New Jersey’s Murphy said. “The proactive and preventative measures that we are implementing today will ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and safety of information assets managed by New Jersey State government.
“This decisive action will ensure the cybersecurity of the state is unified against actors who may seek to divide us.”
Ohio’s executive order outlined that China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law requires businesses located in the country to collect private information “including data sharing with the Chinese Communist Party.”
It added that Chinese social media platforms are essentially an “intelligence gathering mechanism” for the Chinese government.
Tencent, WeChat, Weibo and Alibaba Group subsidiary DingTalk were all part of Ohio’s banned list of platforms.
“We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to Insider.
“TikTok is loved by millions of Americans, and it is unfortunate that the many state agencies, offices, universities, student groups, and sports teams in those states will no longer be able to use TikTok to build communities and share information. We are continuing to work with the federal government to finalize a solution that will meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at the federal and state level.”
A growing number of states have banned TikTok from government devices since December including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and more. An analysis by website Government Technology, published before the New Jersey and Ohio bans were announced, shows more than 20 states have banned TikTok on government devices.
Wisconsin’s governor also announced plans to join the ban on Friday.
Security concerns mounted after FBI director Chris Wray warned that TikTok could collect user information for espionage operations.
In December President Joe Biden approved a bill preventing federal employees from using TikTok on government devices because the app could be used to spy on American users.
TikTok did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.