TikTok is now banned on any device owned and controlled by the US House of Representatives Reuters. The House Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) reportedly told all lawmakers and their staff in an email to remove the app from their devices, as it is considered “high risk” due to a number of security vulnerabilities. Anyone detected to have the social networking application on their phone will be contacted to ensure it is removed and future downloads banned.
This is just the latest development in a series of steps the US government has taken to block the app from devices it owns. Last week, lawmakers passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that included provisions that would ban the use of TikTok on executive branch devices. A spokesperson for the head of the administration said so Reuters that after its adoption, the collective labor agreement worked together with the committee for the house management on the implementation of a similar policy for the chamber.
That came after the Senate voted unanimously to pass the No TikTok on Government Devices Act introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri). As Reuters notes, 19 states had also banned or at least partially banned the installation and use of the app on staff devices they own or control. As the omnibus passed, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter told cafe-madrid that the company is “disappointed that Congress has decided to ban TikTok on government devices,” calling it “a political gesture that will do nothing to advance national security interests.”
Critics of TikTok in the US government have raised concerns that it could be used as a tool to spy on the US by Chinese officials. FBI Director Chris Wray called it a “Trojan horse for the Chinese Communist Party” and said it has no place in government machines until it completely cuts ties with China. TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, sought to address those concerns by directing all domestic traffic through Oracle servers in the US and promising to remove all US user data from its servers.
The recent revelation that ByteDance fired four employees for improperly obtaining data from TikTok users in the US, including that of two reporters, is unlikely to help the company’s case. According to a New York Times report, the employees were given access to the IP addresses and other data linked to two reporters in their quest to find out who was leaking internal information to the press.
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