US Bans Government Users From Using TikTok

Over the last few years, various members of the US government have made it clear that they do not want TikTok to operate inside of the United States of America.

Now, the US Senate has approved a bill that bans federal employees from using the Chinese-owned TikTok app on devices provided by the government. The vote is the latest action on the part of US lawmakers to crackdown on Chinese companies amid national security fears that Beijing could use them to spy on Americans. 

The No TikTok on Government Devices Act was approved after Missouri republican senator Josh Hawley authored a measure that received no objections. Hawley stated that TikTok is a major security risk to the United States and referred to it as a “Trojan Horse” for the Chinese Communist Party. Other US states have already banned TikTok on government devices, but the new act will apply to federal employees as well.

The bill is now pending approval from the US House of Representatives and is scheduled to be voted on before the end of the current congressional session. If this approval occurs, it will be presented to President Joe Biden for signature. 

In addition to banning the installation of the app on government devices, the law requires the Office of Management and Budget to create standards for executive agencies that details how to remove the app from agency information technology. More specifically, the new law requires the Office of Management and Budget to create standards for executive agencies that need TikTok and any successor application from the developer to be removed from agency information technology. The bill clarifies that such standards must include exceptions for law enforcement activities, as well as national security interests and security researchers.

The bill's Senate approval comes weeks after US security company Cerby published a report suggesting TikTok and other social media platforms' security shortcomings can lead to misinformation.  

In times of major political events such as the recent US Midterms and the Brazilian presidential election, social media platforms often find themselves in the spotlight because of their lack of efficiency in tackling misinformation. 

While the US debate about TikTok, along with other social media platforms, usually focuses on the platforms’ mechanisms and processes to fight fake news, the generally trivial nature of the content which is uploaded and the steps that user can take to secure their accounts and prevent any misinformation campaigns are seldom discussed.

Cerby:    DEXERTO:     Bloomberg:    Guardian:     Infosecurity Magazine:     Oodloop:   Inofsecyurity Magazine

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