TikTok Banned On State Government Devices In South Dakota – Will Other States Follow Suit? – Forbes

Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order officially banning the app on state-owned devices … [+] that can access the Internet, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Even as calls continue for a national ban on the Chinese-run social media platform TikTok, this week South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed an executive order officially banning the app on state-owned devices that can access the Internet, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.
The order was in response to the growing national security threat posed by TikTok due to its data-gathering operations on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of nations who hate us,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform.”
The order took immediate effect on Wednesday, and applied to employees and agencies of the State of South Dakota, including persons and entities who contract with the state, commissions, and authorities or agents thereof. The order prohibits downloading or using the TikTok application or visiting the website on state-owned or state-leased electronic devices capable of Internet connectivity.
The Mount Rushmore State became the first state to call for such a ban, but already some branches of the federal government have instituted similar prohibitions from using the social media app, as it is owned by Chinese-based ByteDance.
In early 2020, the Pentagon banned TikTok from military-issued smartphones and later that same year, the TSA called for its employees to cease using the app as part of its social media engagement.
Last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers in Washington that he was “extremely concerned” that Beijing could weaponize data collected on the platform. He warned that nearly all Chinese companies are essentially required to “do whatever the Chinese governments them to in terms of sharing information or serving as a tool of the Chinese government. And so that’s plenty of reason by itself to be extremely concerned.”
Security experts have also cautioned that the app presents numerous threats to user privacy.
“The core issue here is the rising prevalence of nation-state threat actors within the fabric of public cloud infrastructure and Internet apps that can create insidious backdoors and circumvent typical security safeguards,” said Rajiv Pimplaskar, CEO of cybersecurity research firm Dispersive Holdings, Inc.
“Apart from managing a blacklist of vendors, Governments and businesses need to more aggressively embrace advanced zero trust strategies such as stealth networking that obfuscates users, apps, and data and mitigate the harvesting of potentially sensitive information in the first place,” explained Pimplaskar via an email.
The fact that South Dakota has made such a public case is noteworthy suggested technology analyst Charles King of Pund-IT.
“At one level, South Dakota Governor Noem’s ban on TikTok being accessed on South Dakota state devices follows the cautionary advice of Federal officials and agencies, including President Biden and the FCC,” said King.
Currently, the U.S. and China are at loggerheads over numerous issues, and China has a long and documented history of committing hacking and information theft against U.S. government organizations and businesses. Yet, the threat TikTok actually poses to the residents of South Dakota could be overstated.
“It is not entirely clear how interested China is in the TikTok escapades of South Dakota’s 5,000 or so state employees or what value that personal information might provide to the PRC,” pondered King. “If Governor Noem and other officials calling for a ban on TikTok want to lessen the risk to U.S. citizens, they might be better off looking into how Oracle, Tik Tok’s cloud computing vendor in the U.S., is securing users’ data.”


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