HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania state Treasurer Stacey Garrity announced on Thursday that the social media app, TikTok, will be banned from all state Treasury-issued devices.
According to the Pennsylvania Treasury, the FBI has deemed TikTok to be a national security concern.
TikTok is a social media platform owned by ByteDance, which is based in Beijing, China.
“Treasury’s computer network is targeted by scammers and criminals every day,” Garrity said. “TikTok presents a clear danger due to its collection of personal data and its close connection to the communist Chinese government. Banning TikTok from Treasury devices and systems is an important step in our never-ending work to ensure the safety of Pennsylvanians’ hard-earned tax dollars and other important, sensitive information entrusted to Treasury.”
The Treasury conducted an internal security review for the month of December, and they determined that TikTok had not been used on any Treasury-issued devices.
The ban that was instituted by Treasurer Garrity will ban TikTok from all company phones, laptops, and desktop computers. There will also be a firewall in place to block the TikTok app, as well as its corresponding website from the Treasury network.
Congress is set to prevent federal employees from using TikTok on government devices. The following states have banned the app from government-used devices:
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
TikTok would be banned from most U.S. government devices under a spending bill Congress unveiled early Tuesday, the latest push by American lawmakers against the Chinese-owned social media app.
The $1.7 trillion package includes requirements for the Biden administration to prohibit most uses of TikTok or any other app created by its owner, ByteDance Ltd. The requirements would apply to the executive branch — with exemptions for national security, law enforcement and research purposes — and don’t appear to cover Congress, where a handful of lawmakers maintain TikTok accounts.
TikTok is consumed by two-thirds of American teens and has become the second-most popular domain in the world. But there’s long been bipartisan concern in Washington that Beijing would use legal and regulatory power to seize American user data or try to push pro-China narratives or misinformation.
Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok, called the ban “a political gesture that will do nothing to advance national security interests.” TikTok is developing security and data privacy plans as part of an ongoing national security review by President Joe Biden’s administration.
“These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies — plans that we are well underway in implementing — to further secure our platform in the United States, and we will continue to brief lawmakers on them,” Oberwetter said in a statement.
Speaking Friday, CIA Director William Burns said Beijing can “insist upon extracting the private data of a lot of TikTok users in this country and also to shape the content of what goes on to TikTok as well to suit the interests of the Chinese leadership.”
“I think those are real challenges and a source of real concern,” Burns told PBS. He declined to take a position on congressional efforts to limit TikTok.
The Associated Press contributed to this report