Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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US government bans TikTok from official devices

TikTok has been banned from most US government devices. President Joe Biden has formally signed the new $1.7 trillion spending bill, which incorporates the No TikTok on Government Devices Act, into law. The sprawling 4,155-page omnibus bill includes provisions that prohibit the use of the popular video-centric social media app on government-owned phones, computers, and other devices, barring a few exceptions. This follows similar bans from over a dozen US states and the House of Representatives. All of those bans cited national security concerns.
TikTok will disappear from most US government devices
TikTok has been staring at a nationwide ban from US government-issued devices for the past few weeks. Members of the US Senate unanimously approved the No TikTok on Government Devices Act in mid-December. Originally introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), the Act was crammed into the omnibus bill. The bill received the Senate’s approval with a 68-29 vote on December 22nd. The House voted 225-201 the next day to pass the bill and presented it to President Joe Biden. The President signed the bill into law on Thursday (via).
The US government’s General Services Administration and Office of Management and Budget will now establish rules and guidelines to remove TikTok from government-issued devices by mid-February, 2023. As said earlier, the legislation does provide some exceptions. It allows congressional staff, elected officials, and law enforcement officials to continue using the app, though there may be some guidelines for them as well. All other government servants must stop using TikTok on their official smartphones, computers, and other devices.
This ban from the US government follows similar decisions from several states, including Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. The US House of Representatives has also announced a ban on TikTok from all devices owned and managed by the House. These decisions came after a warning from FBI Director Chris Wray earlier this month. Wray warned that TikTok’s Chinese owner ByteDance could use the app to spy on American users on behalf of the country’s authoritarian government.
TikTok did spy on some Americans
The US government has never had much trust in TikTok. It survived a potential nationwide ban a couple of years back when Donald Trump was in power. ByteDance has since moved its headquarters from China to Singapore in an attempt to allay national security concerns. It has also been storing American users’ data in Oracle’s servers within the US since June this year. Oracle is also independently reviewing TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation systems.
While all this did help TikTok avoid a nationwide ban in the US, it couldn’t avoid a ban on most government devices. And the company itself is to blame for this, at least partly. As the bill was passing through tables, news broke that TikTok admittedly spied on some US-based journalists. It tracked the location and IP addresses of journalists from the Financial Times, Forbes, and other publications. This has added to TikTok’s already ill fame. It remains to be seen whether US lawmakers tighten their grip on the company in the coming months. Meanwhile, you can check out these TikTok alternatives.



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