Kansas Governor Issues Latest TikTok Ban as Concerns Become Bipartisan

TikTok ban US government
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TikTok ban US government
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Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

Kansas governor issues latest TikTok ban as concerns become bipartisan.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has banned the use of TikTok on state-issued devices for government employees. Kelly is one of the first Democratic governors to restrict the use of the popular app, five days after Congress approved the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill banning TikTok from US government-issued devices.

Republican governors in at least 15 states have already imposed similar restrictions. On Monday, Louisiana’s commissioner of administration (a Republican appointed by Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards) banned the use of the app on state networks under the governor’s control. US armed forces have long prohibited the use of TikTok on military devices.

The congressional spending bill’s provision reflects bipartisan concerns about security and misinformation resulting from the app’s Chinese ownership. The FBI and the FCC have cautioned that TikTok user data could be shared by owner ByteDance if requested by China’s authoritarian government. US government officials have also expressed concern that the Chinese government could utilize TikTok to push pro-China narratives and misinformation.

Concern has also been expressed over whether TikTok’s content harms teenagers’ mental health. TikTok has become the world’s second-most-popular domain, used by two-thirds of American teenagers.

“TikTok mines users’ data and potentially makes it available to the Chinese Communist Party,” said Gov. Kelly. 

Kelly’s order applies to her state’s executive branch agencies, boards, and commissions but not to state universities which the Kansas Board of Regents instead oversees. The executive order also doesn’t apply to the Legislature or employees of other statewide elected officials, such as the attorney general or secretary of state. Still, Kelly has urged them to impose such restrictions.

Jamal Brown, a spokesperson for TikTok, has said the company is working with the US government to address privacy concerns.

“We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok,” said Brown.