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27 Dec, 2022 22:46

TikTok banned for US lawmakers – media

House Democrats and Republicans reportedly have to delete the “high risk” app from their official phones
TikTok banned for US lawmakers – media

Administrators at the US House of Representatives sent out an email on Tuesday allegedly instructing all lawmakers and staff to uninstall TikTok from any official phones, calling the app a security risk. TikTok has been banned on US government devices as part of a $1.7 trillion spending bill adopted last week.

“The Office of Cybersecurity has deemed the TikTok mobile application to be a high risk to users due to a number of security risks,” said the email from the Committee on House Administration obtained by reporters.

According to the email, staff must remove the application from any device issued by the House and are banned from reinstalling it. The change comes after the 117th Congress concluded its business and disbanded. The 118th Congress is scheduled to be sworn in next Tuesday.

Among the last things the US lawmakers did in 2022 was to pass the omnibus spending bill, which included a ban on installing TikTok on any government device.  

Several lawmakers wanted to go even further and ban the app in the US altogether. Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Mike Gallagher – Republicans of Florida and Wisconsin, respectively – introduced a bill called ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, painting TikTok as a way for the Chinese government to spy on Americans. A company spokesperson described it as “a politically-motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the US.”

A week after Rubio and Gallagher proposed their ban, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, admitted that four employees had used the app to spy on two Americans, journalists at the Financial Times and BuzzFeed News. One US-based executive and one Chinese executive lost their jobs as a result.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said that he was “disappointed” in the employees and that the company takes data security “incredibly seriously.”

“The public trust that we have spent huge efforts building is going to be significantly undermined by the misconduct of a few individuals,” ByteDance CEO Liang Rubo said in an internal email.  

TikTok is the international version of Douyin, a Chinese social media platform that lets users upload short videos. The two have the same user interface but no access to each other’s content. ByteDance says TikTok has over 1.5 billion accounts, at least a billion of which are monthly active users.