Maryland announced that it would ban the use of TikTok and several other Chinese and Russian programs in the state government, citing ongoing cybersecurity concerns.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced an emergency directive Tuesday afternoon instructing public employees to remove the popular Chinese-owned video app from their devices.
“There is perhaps no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives,” Hogan stated in the announcement.
“To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us.”
In addition to TikTok, the order also banned products from Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Tencent Holdings, Tencent QQ, Alibaba and Kaspersky.
Tencent owns the popular messaging app WeChat. Alibaba owns AliPay, the world’s largest third-party payment platform, which serves more transactions than PayPal and Venmo, mainly in mainland China.
Government employees will now be required to remove all software from the foreign companies from their devices, and within 14 days implement restrictions preventing installation or access to their services.
Several federal government officials have sounded similar alarms. FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that TikTok’s algorithm could be used for “influence operations” against the American public.
“The Chinese government has demonstrated a willingness to steal Americans’ data on a scale that dwarfs any other,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said in a speech at the University of Michigan on Friday.
Maryland is not the first US state to ban the use of the popular app in government. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a similar order last week.
“The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it collects on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they collect data from the devices that have access to the platform,” Noem stated.
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are also pushing the state’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, to take similar action.
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