GOP congressmen urge Tony Evers to delete TikTok from state … – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

WASHINGTON – Wisconsin’s top Republicans want Gov. Tony Evers to delete TikTok.
In a letter to the Democratic governor Tuesday, the state’s Republican delegation in Washington called on Evers to ban the popular video sharing app from state government devices and asked him to delete his own account, arguing the Chinese government can use TikTok to spy on users and promote Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
“Wisconsinites expect their governor to be aware of the dangerous national security threats TikTok poses and to protect them from this avenue for CCP intelligence operations,” the letter, signed by U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, Tom Tiffany, Glenn Grothman, Bryan Steil and Scott Fitzgerald, as well as U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, read. “As governor, you should prohibit this app from state government devices.”
The letter to Evers comes amid renewed scrutiny of the phone app and follows warnings from U.S. intelligence officials that TikTok, owned by the Beijing-based company ByteDance, poses a potential national security risk.
FBI Director Christopher Wray last month told Congress that the Chinese government could use aspects of the app’s programming to “control data collection of millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which can be used for influence operations.” Wray has also suggested the app could be used to control the software on devices, potentially compromising phones with the app.
A spokesperson for Evers, who used TikTok on the campaign trail, on Tuesday said the Evers Administration and the Department of Administration’s Division of Enterprise Technology “take cybersecurity very seriously and regularly consult the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and counterintelligence specialists in making decisions about cybersecurity for state government devices.”
“We will continue to defer to the judgment and advice of law enforcement, cybersecurity, and counterintelligence experts regarding this and other evolving cybersecurity issues,” the spokesperson said.
Earlier Tuesday, Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback suggested Republicans should have called the governor about their concerns.
“My favorite part about Wisconsin Republicans’ ~we want to work together~ narrative is when they send a formal, three-page letter that could’ve been a phone call just so they leak to press and get stories like this,” Cudaback wrote on Twitter. “In the spirit of bipartisanship, of course!”
Evers does not have a personal or official TikTok account, the governor’s office said. His campaign TikTok was maintained by a state government device, in accordance with Wisconsin law.
Gallagher, a Green Bay Republican who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has been outspoken in his opposition to TikTok in recent weeks, likening the phone app to “digital fentanyl” and claiming it could allow the Chinese government to track a user’s location and keystrokes.
In an op-ed published last month in the Washington Post, Gallagher and Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for the app, which reached 1 billion users last year, to be banned in the U.S.
“Unless TikTok and its algorithm can be separated from Beijing, the app’s use in the United States will continue to jeopardize our country’s safety and pave the way for a Chinese-influenced tech landscape here,” the pair wrote.
TikTok officials, meanwhile, have testified that U.S. user data is stored in the U.S. The app’s Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas told members of Congress that TikTok has never shared data with the Chinese government.
The Tuesday letter from Wisconsin Republicans cited concerns from the intelligence community, as well as news articles, including those on how TikTok can censor messages at odds with the Chinese government and monitor someone’s specific location.
Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, the Republicans note in the letter, issued an executive order last week banning state employees from accessing TikTok on state-owned devices.
“We strongly urge you to follow Governor Noem’s lead and examine your own legal authorities to ban TikTok from Wisconsin state government devices,” the letter read.


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