New Jersey and Ohio on Monday became the latest states to ban the Chinese social media app TikTok on state-owned and managed devices. More than a dozen states have now prohibited its use over security concerns.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy took the order a step further by banning software vendors, products, and services from over a dozen firms. The list included Huawei, Hikvision, Tencent Holdings, ZTE Corporation, and Kaspersky Lab.
In a press release, the Democrat said that “bolstering cybersecurity is critical to protecting the overall safety and welfare of our State.”
He added that the “decisive action” guarantees the state is “unified against actors who may seek to divide us.” His concerns echo those of several other governors who object to the massive troves of data collected by TikTok parent company ByteDance.
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Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in his action also noted the “cybersecurity threats to users of these applications and platforms.” He said that the company’s inattention to data privacy presents threats to both national and local security.
Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced his intentions to join the chorus of states prohibiting the controversial app.
TikTok said it was “disappointed” that several states “are jumping on the political bandwagon.” It asserted that the measures do not advance cybersecurity and are grounded in lies perpetuated about the Chinese company.
State actions gathered momentum after November’s declaration from FBI Director Christopher Wray on the social media platform. The director warned that the Chinese government could utilize the app to influence its tens of millions of users and even control their devices.
TikTok has undertaken an intense lobbying effort to convince U.S. officials that it poses no threat to the nation’s cybersecurity. Research by the Washington Examiner revealed that company lobbyists have made at least eight visits to the Biden White House.
However, Reuters reported Friday that the Chinese firm has halted the hiring of consultants to assist its planned security agreement with the U.S. It was also recently revealed that ByteDance spied on at least one U.S. journalist.
Even as the White House is slow to respond to what experts agree is a looming threat, more states are lining up to fill in the gaps left by the Biden administration’s inaction.