The White House on Monday gave government officials 30 days to ensure that they do not have the Chinese app TikTok on federal devices and systems.
In an effort to keep US data safe, all federal agencies should remove TikTok from phones and systems and block the internet from reaching the company, the Office of Management and Administration said. Shalanda Young’s budget at the offices in a strategic plan seen by Reuters.
The ban, ordered by Congress at the end of last year, follows similar actions from Canada, the EU, Taiwan and more than half of the US states.
The device’s ban — while affecting a small portion of TikTok’s US user base — added fuel to calls for an outright ban on the video-sharing app. National security concerns about China were raised in recent weeks when a Chinese balloon drifted over the US.
ByteDance’s TikTok said the concerns were fueled by misinformation and denied using the app to spy on Americans. The move does not affect more than 100 million Americans who use TikTok on private or corporate devices. TikTok did not immediately release a statement from the White House.
Congress voted in December to stop federal employees from using Chinese video surveillance on government devices and gave the Biden administration 60 days to issue the agency’s directives. The vote is the latest move by U.S. lawmakers to crack down on Chinese companies amid national security concerns that Beijing could use it to spy on Americans.
Federal Chief Information Security Officer Chris DeRusha said “this policy is part of the Administration’s continued commitment to securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the security and privacy of Americans.”
Many government agencies including the White House, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department banned TikTok from government devices before the election.
The ban on TikTok is not used when there is national security, law enforcement or research protection, but the leaders of the agency must approve these activities, Young’s memo says and “blanket sanctions that targeting an entire office is not allowed.”
On Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee is set to vote on a bill that would give President Joe Biden the authority to ban TikTok from all US devices.
“My bill would force the administration to ban TikTok or any software that threatens national security,” said Rep. Mike McCaul, the committee’s chairman. “Anyone who has TikTok downloaded on their device has given the (Chinese Communist Party) a back door to their personal information. It’s a spy balloon on your phone.”
The American Civil Liberties Union said it opposed the legalization of TikTok.
The memo from the White House says that within 90 days, agencies must address any use of TikTok by IT customers through contracts and with 120 days the agency will include a ban new to TikTok with all new applications.
Earlier Monday, Canada announced a ban on TikTok from government-issued devices, saying it posed an “unacceptable” risk to privacy and security. , adding to the growing tensions between the two countries.
The Canadian ban was issued “without citing any security concerns or contacting us with any questions,” a TikTok spokesperson said.
The two largest organizations of the European Union last week banned TikTok from the phones of the employees due to the security on the internet.
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