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TikTok, time’s up: Growing list of states join federal government in banning foreign-owned app over security concerns

The list of states banning the use of TikTok continues to grow. Since 2020, states, federal agencies, private companies, and even the military have taken action against the Chinese-owned social media app over possible national security threats.

U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, who serves as Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated in November 2022 that “TikTok is an enormous threat,” noting it’s a “massive collector of information.” Warner said, “[TikTok] can visualize even down to your keystrokes.”

Just last week Texas and Oklahoma joined Maryland, South Dakota, South Carolina, and Nebraska to ban the app on state-owned networks and devices. Indiana also announced a lawsuit this month against TikTok over security concerns. The State Department, Department of Homeland Security, and the Pentagon banned the app from federally owned devices in 2020.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has called for the United States government to ban TikTok. When news coverage discussed American troops’ use of TikTok being a national security threat, Carr cited a report of leaked audio from 80 internal TikTok meetings that showed China has repeatedly accessed Americans’ user data. FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that TikTok’s data collection “can be used for traditional espionage operations.” 

Per The Washington Post, the Biden administration is currently reviewing a potential deal to assuage the government’s data privacy and security concerns. But The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that a potential agreement “has run into more delays” amid “a range of concerns, including how TikTok might share information related to the algorithm it uses to determine what videos to show users.”