HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A Pennsylvania State Senate committee advanced a bill Monday that would ban TikTok from state-owned devices and networks.
The bill was unanimously passed through the Senate Communications and Technology Committee on Monday.
Senate Bill 379, sponsored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), would mandate that all state agencies, departments and commissions remove TikTok from state networks.
The measure would also require that policies are put in place to prevent application installation, as well as network-based restrictions to prevent its use and access.
“We are talking about the potential of foreign governments having access to Americans’ personal information,” committee chair Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Berks/Montgomery) said. “We have many state employees who use TikTok. The opening presented to foreign bad actors to exploit this information is huge. By passing this measure, we will have blocked another potential avenue for cyber incursion and improve state government’s cyber defenses.”
Sensitive information that may be on state owned devices includes birth certificates, driver’s licenses, taxes, and more. The State Treasurer and Lancaster County recently took similar measures to ban the app.
“Our nation’s top law enforcement agencies and national defense officials agree that TikTok poses a serious threat to our nation’s cybersecurity,” said Phillips-Hill. “I am grateful the committee advanced this measure so Pennsylvania’s government can best protect its information technology assets and resources, and, most importantly, ensure that data collected on Pennsylvania taxpayers is safeguarded from foreign adversaries.”
Senate Bill 379 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
TikTok is consumed by two-thirds of American teens. But there’s long been bipartisan concern in Washington that China could use its legal and regulatory power to seize American user data or try to push misinformation or narratives favoring China.
TikTok spokesman Jamal Brown said it is working to “meaningfully address” security concerns from U.S. and state officials and said states’ bans do not improve security.
“State legislatures are pressing ahead with bans of TikTok based on nothing more than the hypothetical concerns they’ve heard on the news,” Brown said in an email to The Associated Press.
The Associated Press contributed to this report