South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Bans TikTok From Government Devices Citing National Security Threat

Flickr Image- Gage Skidmore

South Dakota’s governor signed an executive order on Tuesday prohibiting state agencies, employees, and contractors from accessing TikTok on government devices, citing the Chinese-owned social media platform’s “growing national security threat.” The order takes immediate effect.

South Dakota will not participate in the intelligence gathering operations of nations that despise them, said Gov. Kristi Noem in a press release. The Chinese Communist Party manipulates the American people using information gathered on TikTok, and they collect data from devices that access the platform, she said. Any efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to procure information that could be used to indoctrinate American youth will be condemned.

On Tuesday, Christopher Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, testified before the House Homeland Security Committee at a hearing on global threats . The FBI’s director stated that the bureau has “national security concerns” about TikTok’s operations in the United States, warning that the Chinese government could potentially use the popular video-sharing app to influence or control American users’ devices.

In testimony before a subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr stated that “TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data.”

It’s unclear how many, if any, state employees used the Chinese-owned app on state-owned devices. However, with the move, Noem becomes the latest legislator to call for tougher action against the popular short-form video app, potentially scoring political points in the process.

This year, there has been renewed criticism of TikTok, following a Buzzfeed News report in June that claimed some US user data had been repeatedly accessed from China. According to the report, audio recordings of dozens of internal TikTok meetings were leaked, including one in which a TikTok employee allegedly said, “Everything is seen in China.”

TikTok previously stated in response to the report that it has consistently maintained that its engineers who were based in locations outside the US, including China, could be granted access to US user data under those strict controls, whenever needed. Last year, a TikTok executive testified before a Senate committee that the company does not share information with the Chinese government and that a US-based security team decides who can access US user data from China.

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