TikTok is now banned on all devices owned and managed by the US House of Representatives, according to Reuters. The House Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) reportedly told all lawmakers and their staff in an email that they must delete the app from their devices because it is considered “high risk due to a number of security issues.” Anyone found to have the social networking application on their phones will be contacted to ensure it has been deleted and any future downloads banned.
This is just the latest development in a series of moves by the US government to block the app from devices it owns. Last week, lawmakers approved a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that included provisions that would ban the use of TikTok on executive department devices. A spokesperson for the CEO said so Reuters that after its adoption, the CAO worked with the Committee on House Administration to implement a similar policy for the House.
It came after the Senate voted unanimously to approve the No TikTok on State Entities Act introduced by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). As Reuters notes that 19 states had also banned or at least partially banned the app’s installation and use on employee devices they own or manage. When the omnibus passed, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter told Engadget that the company is “disappointed that Congress has moved to ban TikTok on government entities,” calling it “a political gesture that will do nothing to advance national security interests.”
TikTok’s critics in the US government have raised concerns that it could be used as a tool to spy on the US by Chinese officials. FBI Director Chris Wray called it a “Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party” and said it has no place on government devices until it completely cuts ties with China. TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, tried to address these concerns by routing all domestic traffic through Oracle servers in the US and promised to delete all US user data from the servers.
The recent revelation that ByteDance fired four employees for inappropriately obtaining data from TikTok users in the US, including data from two reporters, is unlikely to help the company’s case. According to a New York Times report, employees accessed the IP addresses and other data associated with two reporters in their quest to find out who leaked internal information to the press.
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