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Kansas bans TikTok on state devices

The popular social media app TikTok. (Dreamstime/TNS)
December 30, 2022

Kansas became the latest state to restrict the TikTok social media app over fears of Chinese spying with an executive order issued by Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday.

The order highlights warnings from government agencies, including the FBI, that American data is vulnerable to Chinese government surveillance through the massively popular app. Its owner, ByteDance, is based in China, where business and government are closely linked.

“TikTok mines users’ data and potentially gives it to the Chinese Communist Party — a threat recognized by a growing group of bipartisan leaders,” Kelly stated in a tweet announcing the move.

Kelly is among the first Democratic governors to oversee a TikTok ban on state devices, the Associated Press reported. Kansas joins at least 21 other states that have made similar moves, almost all within the last month, as tracked by Government Technology.

The order applies throughout Kansas’ executive branch, but not its legislative or judicial branches, KSN reported. It also doesn’t apply to state universities or the offices of several top officials, including the attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer, but the order encourages them to comply.

Any official Kansas TikTok accounts are to be deleted. Kelly also ordered “limitations on the ability to access the TikTok website from the State of Kansas network.”

In a statement on the Kansas ban, TikTok said it’s “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,” local outlet KSN reported.

On the federal level, TikTok is set to be banned on all government devices under the $1.7 trillion spending bill that passed last week. The House of Representatives pre-empted that ban with its own on Tuesday, saying the app is “high risk due to a number of security issues,” Reuters reported.

The U.S. is negotiating with ByteDance to resolve national security risks, but Federal Communications Commission member Brendan Carr recently asserted that there’s no “path forward for anything other than a ban.”