Utah Gov. Spencer Cox bans use of TikTok on all state-owned devices

File photo: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox/Facebook

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Dec. 12, 2022 (Gephardt Daily) — Citing potential threats to Utah’s cybersecurity, Gov. Spencer Cox issued an executive order Monday to immediately ban use of TikTok on all state-owned electronic devices.

The order prohibits state agencies or employees from downloading or using the app or visiting any TikTok website on state-owned smartphones, laptops, tablets or other electronic devices.

“China’s access to data collected by TikTok presents a threat to our cybersecurity,” Gov. Cox said. “As a result, we’ve deleted our TikTok account and ordered the same on all state-owned devices. We must protect Utahns and make sure that the people of Utah can trust the state’s security systems.”

TikTok, which has more than 100 million users in the U.S, is owned and operated by ByteDance, which is based in China.

Chinese national security laws allow the Chinese government to compel companies headquartered in China to provide it with data, which may include the personal data, intellectual property, or proprietary information of users in the U.S. and Utah, the governor’s order states.

The order also cites statements from FBI Director Christopher Wray, who “has noted TikTok poses national security concerns, including the possibility that the Chinese government uses TikTok to control data collection, influence TikTok’s recommendation algorithm, or compromise personal devices.”

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, applauded the action Monday on social media.

“TikTok, which is owned by a company headquartered in China, poses grave security concerns to Utah and the country,” Romney stated. “This is the right move and will better protect sensitive data from getting into hands of the [Chinese Communist Party].”

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, had a one-word response to the TikTok ban: “Good.”

Cox becomes the latest Republican governor to prohibit access to the popular video-sharing app over security risks, following similar actions in Maryland, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.

The order also calls for state officials to “investigate any additional vulnerabilities TikTok presents to state networks or infrastructure” and make recommendations to the governor to address any identified vulnerabilities.


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