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South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem ordered state government employees to stop using TikTok.
Noem signed an Executive Order Tuesday to ban government officials in the state from using the Chinese social media app over growing security concerns. The order takes effect immediately, and bans all state government employees and contractors from downloading the app on government devices. TikTok has been the subject of growing concerns in recent months about data privacy and security risks it poses, particularly to government officials.
“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of nations who hate us,” Noem said in a statement Tuesday. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform.”
“Because of our serious duty to protect the private data of South Dakota citizens, we must take this action immediately,” Noem added. “I hope other states will follow South Dakota’s lead, and Congress should take broader action, as well.”
Other officials in South Dakota have previously sounded the alarm about the harm the app inflicts on American children and students.
“TikTok delivers garbage content to American students and educational content to Chinese students,” Congressman Dusty Johnson (R-SD) wrote on Twitter, reacting to a “60 Minutes” segment on the differences between content the app promotes in the U.S. vs. in China. “We cannot trust this company.”
In August, Johnson introduced a bill to ban TikTok from collecting user data from American users from within the People’s Republic of China. The bill would also have banned TikTok from being downloaded on federal government devices, including military installations and federal agencies.
“A great clip from a recent @60Minutes piece on why TikTok is not as harmless as many believe,” Sioux Falls mayor Paul TenHaken said in reaction to the clip. “This app needs more federal scrutiny to ensure our kids (and national security) are protected.”
At the federal level, TikTok has faced severe and continuous scrutiny about the security risks it poses, not just to the data privacy of individual users, but to national security as well.
“We do have national security concerns — at least from the FBI’s end — about TikTok,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee at a hearing earlier this month. “They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users. Or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so chose. Or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices.”
The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) of the House of Representatives has also warned members of Congress against downloading the app, citing security concerns. A memo from the office warned members that the app harvests data, including possibly sensitive information; it also cited the app’s excessive permissions requests and its lack of transparency in how it protects user data.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has asked Congress to ban TikTok, and earlier this month, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Representative Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced legislation to ban the app in the U.S. outright.