Legislation introduced by State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) would ban TikTok, a popular video sharing app that U.S. officials say has deep ties to the Chinese Communist government, from installation and use on all state-issued devices.
“TikTok is state-sponsored spyware,” said Theis. “While some may find it fun, or even as a way to gain notoriety, the fact is, unbeknownst to most users, TikTok harvests sensitive information and transmits it back to the Chinese Communist Party. This is a huge security risk to say the least, and there is no rational reason why any employee of the state of Michigan should be using TikTok on taxpayer-funded, government-issued devices.”
According to a release from Theis’ office, TikTok is developed by the Chinese software company ByteDance, which employs members of the Chinese Communist Party and operates a subsidiary that is partially owned by the party.
Last November, FBI Director Christopher Wray said TikTok poses national security risks as the Chinese government could harness the app to influence users or control their devices.
Theis also wanted citizens, and particularly parents, to be aware of how “devious TikTok can be for users, especially young adults and children.” She cited a recent Pew Research Center survey indicating that about 70% of U.S. teens between 13 and 17 use TikTok, while 1 in 6 say they use it “almost constantly.”
Should Theis’ bill become law, Michigan would join 15 other states and the U.S. Congress in approving measures to ban TikTok from government-issued devices.