Alabama, Utah Ban TikTok for State Govt Use

On Mon., Alabama and Utah became the latest US states to ban the use of Chinese-owned TikTok on state government devices and computer networks because of reported national security concerns.

Alabama, Utah Ban TikTok for State Govt Use
Image credit: Alexander Shatov / Unsplash

Facts

  • On Mon., Alabama and Utah became the latest US states to ban the use of Chinese-owned TikTok on state government devices and computer networks because of reported national security concerns.
  • These latest bans come amid warnings from FBI Director Chris Wray, who last month said that the Chinese government could potentially collect data from its millions of US users or use the recommendation algorithm to conduct influence operations.
  • In addition to banning the download of the app on state devices, Utah Republican Gov. Spencer Cox’s executive order also said “an agency may not sponsor content on TikTok or maintain an agency-branded or agency-sponsored TikTok account." Similar bans have taken place in Neb., S.D., S.C., Texas, Md., and Okla. in recent months.
  • Since its founding in 2018, TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has drawn the concern of US lawmakers. ByteDance was fined by the US Federal Trade Commission over its collection of data from children, and in 2020 then-Pres. Donald Trump unsuccessfully tried to ban the app.
  • A TikTok spokesperson reacted to the bans in Utah and Ala. in a statement, saying, "We're disappointed that so many states are jumping on the bandwagon to enact policies based on unfounded, politically charged falsehoods about TikTok.”
  • Other states are considering a similar ban, with N.Y. lawmakers recently proposing a bill to ban its state employees and contractors from downloading the application.

Sources: Reuters, Washington Examiner, AL.com, and New York Post.

Narratives

  • Republican narrative, as provided by Daily Wire. As long as the PRC has enough influence over companies to force them to provide it with any requested data, it’s important to keep TikTok off as many American devices as possible. These state government-level bans, in places mostly run by Republicans, are the best way to protect personal safety and national security, and an all-out federal ban should be on Congress’s agenda in the near future.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by Investors. The Biden admin. has a more prudent approach — negotiating with ByteDance to address national security concerns. While Republicans see this issue as a way to criticize Biden's China policies, the reality is that the social media platform is extremely popular nationwide with GenZ voters.