The list of states that ban TikTok is growing

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin and North Carolina join at least 22 states to ban popular social media app TikTok on state-owned devices, including Mississippi, Indiana, Louisiana, and South Dakota.

Congress also recently banned TikTok due to bipartisan concerns about security on most US government-issued devices.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by critics who say the Chinese government can access user data such as browsing history and location. The US armed forces have also banned the app on military devices.

TikTok is consumed by two-thirds of American teens and has become the second most popular domain name in the world. But there has long been a bipartisan concern in Washington that Beijing will use legal and regulatory power to seize American user data or spread pro-China narratives or misinformation.

Here’s a look at the action in Wisconsin and North Carolina and the wider debate on TikTok:

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WHY DID WISCONSIN AND NORTH CAROLINA BAN TIKTOK?

Democratic Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers expressed his concerns about privacy, safety and security after consulting with FBI and emergency management officials about the practice. Evers’ order applies to most government agencies, with some exceptions, such as forensic investigators who may be using the app to track certain individuals.

The University of Wisconsin System, which employs 40,000 faculty and staff, is also exempt. However, a UW System spokesperson said that despite the exemption, the university is conducting an investigation to guard against serious cybersecurity risks and is on track to impose restrictions on the app used on the devices.

Both Evers and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper have also banned the use of WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging app, on government devices.

“It’s important for us to protect government information technology from foreign countries that are actively involved in cyberattacks against the United States,” Cooper said. “Protecting North Carolina from cyber threats is vital to ensuring the safety, security, privacy and success of our state and its people.”

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WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS ABOUT TIKTOK?

Both the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have confirmed that ByteDance Ltd., the owner of TikTok user data. He warned that it could be shared by China’s authoritarian government. US officials also worry that the Chinese government may use TikTok to spread pro-Chinese narratives or misinformation.

Reports last year that a China-based team improperly accessed data from US TikTok users, including two journalists, as part of a covert surveillance program to uncover the source of the media leaks, fueled fears.

There are also concerns that the company is sending large amounts of user data to China in violation of strict European privacy rules.

Additionally, there are concerns about TikTok’s content and whether it harms teens’ mental health.

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WHO FORCED THE RESTRICTIONS?

In 2020, then-President Donald Trump and his administration tried to ban deals with TikTok’s owner, forcing it to sell its US assets, and removing it from app stores. Courts thwarted Trump’s efforts to ban TikTok, and President Joe Biden rescinded Trump’s orders after he took office, but ordered the matter to be looked into in-depth. The planned sale of TikTok’s US assets has been shelved.

In Congress, implementation concerns were two-sided. Congress last month banned TikTok over bipartisan concerns about security on most US government-issued devices.

In December, the Senate approved a version of the TikTok ban written by conservative Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri, who has been vocally critical of big tech companies.

But Democratic US Representative from Illinois, Raja Krishnamoorthi, co-sponsored the law that completely bans TikTok from operating in the US, and the measure, which was approved by Congress in December, had the support of Democratic US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

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WHAT DOES TIKTOK SAY?

“We are disappointed that so many states have jumped into the political majority to enact policies based on unfounded lies about TikTok that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states,” TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown said in an emailed statement. Declaration.

TikTok is developing security and data privacy plans as part of an ongoing national security review by President Joe Biden’s administration.

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