Maryland announced it would ban the use of TikTok and several other Chinese and Russian programs within the state government, citing lingering cybersecurity concerns.
Governor Larry Hogan announced an emergency directive on Tuesday afternoon directing government employees to remove the popular Chinese video app from their devices.
“There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that underpin our daily lives,” Hogan said in the announcement.
“To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations seeking to weaken and divide us.”
In addition to TikTok, the order also banned products from Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Tencent Holdings, Tencent QQ, Alibaba and Kaspersky.
Tencent owns the popular messaging app WeChat. Alibaba owns AliPay, the world’s largest third-party payment platform, which transacts more than PayPal and Venmo, primarily in mainland China.
Government employees must now remove all software from the foreign companies from their devices and introduce restrictions within 14 days that prevent installation or access to their services.
Several federal government officials have sounded similar alarms. FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that TikTok’s algorithm could be used for “influence operations” against the American public.
“The Chinese government has shown a willingness to steal data from Americans on a scale that dwarfs all others,” FBI Director Christopher Wray said Friday at the University of Michigan.
Maryland isn’t the first US state to ban the use of the popular app within its government. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem signed a similar order last week.
“The Chinese Communist Party uses information it collects on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they collect data from the devices that access the platform,” Noem said.
Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin are also pushing their state’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, to take similar action.
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