State officials have claimed that the Chinese-owned video-sharing app could pose a threat to national security
Michigan has joined a growing number of states that have banned TikTok on government devices — but with some exceptions, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer, whose popular account has nearly 200,000 followers.
State officials decided to ban the app earlier this month, though the decision was not confirmed until Wednesday by Michigan’s acting chief security officer Jayson Cavendish, who told local reporters that TikTok is “forbidden for state devices” since March 1.
Cavendish said the video sharing application was placed in a “supervised mode” back in 2020, allowing official devices to access the site, but only after a security warning to discourage its use. TikTok is now blocked in web browsers, and while the standalone app can still be downloaded on state devices, it can no longer be opened.
However, the state government has some exemptions from the new rule, allowing officials to use the app for law enforcement and “promotion” purposes, according to local media. That means Governor Whitmer — who posts TikTok almost daily to her more than 195,000 followers — may continue to use it.
The governor’s account has posted several posts since the ban went into effect, but officials claim she uses a secure device that is never connected to government networks.
“It is a Michigan state device, but it follows the guidelines in place for the exceptions. And the exceptions are for any department that thinks they need it for their work to convey to the public, or for research purposes,” said Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy.
He added that so far no other government agency has requested the same exemption as Whitmer’s office.
The federal government and at least 25 state administrations have issued similar bans on official devices, according to a Yahoo Finance count, prompting many to take action after FBI Director Christopher Wray alleged that the Chinese government had access to data shared by the app. were collected. A long line of state and federal officials have raised similar privacy and national security concerns, including Michigan’s Department of Technology, Management and Budget, which said it may “hazards” linked to TikTok in December.
TikTok has dismissed allegations that it is passing data to the Chinese government, while Beijing insists the crackdown on the site in the US is just an attempt to “suppressing foreign companies”, claim that Washington “has overstretched the concept of national security and abused state power” to target the popular video-sharing site, which has more than 1 billion monthly users worldwide.
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