Hobbs Signs Executive Order Banning Use Of TikTok On Government Devices

Hobbs Signs Executive Order Banning Use Of TikTok On Government Devices

By Daniel Stefanski |

Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs and Arizona Legislative Republicans may not see eye to eye on much this session, but there’s one issue that has united Republicans with the state’s chief executive.

Last week, Governor Hobbs signed an executive order, dated April 4, to force “all State Agencies to remove TikTok from State-owned and State-leased information technology and personal devices used for State work.”

Hobbs justified her decision, writing that “TikTok has been found to have security vulnerabilities that, if unresolved, could expose State-owned or State-leased devices to malicious actors creating potential security and privacy risks to State agencies and the systems and data the State is charged with protecting.”

As Hobbs’ order concedes, the Arizona action was not the first in the nation: “TikTok has been banned on government devices by the federal government, several other states, countries, and organizations due to security concerns and concerns about the application’s potential to spread misinformation and propaganda.”

Freshman Representative Matt Gress, the sponsor of the “No TikTok on Arizona Government Devices Act” (HB 2416), cheered on the governor’s action, stating, “I applaud the Governor for taking action to address the security and data collection threats posed by TikTok and similar apps.”

Gress, though, urged the governor and his colleagues in the Legislature to pass and sign his bill, saying, “The Legislature still needs to act, and the Governor should sign HB 2416, a comprehensive plan to keep the state’s critical information secure and strengthen public safety. It would expand on the Governor’s order, codifying it permanently into state law, and apply to all government entities, employees, and contractors.”

HB 2416 passed the Arizona House at the end of February with a 31-28 vote – with one Democrat Representative not voting. It recently cleared the Senate Government Committee, and it awaits final action from the full chamber.

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes also chimed in on the TikTok news with an announcement, dated April 5, that the use of TikTok was banned on “all computers, mobile phones, and tablets owned by the (Attorney General’s) office.” Mayes explained that “Data security is paramount, especially for government agencies that handle sensitive information. We cannot risk the potential exposure of our data to foreign entities. Banning TikTok on state-owned devices is a necessary measure to protect our operations.”

Mayes revealed that “she was not reassured by recent testimony given by the CEO of Tik Tok to a Congressional panel,” adding, “Given the inability of TikTok’s CEO to definitiely state that the Chinese government cannot access data collected from U.S. users, I remain unconvinced that the app’s security risks have been adequately addressed.”

The action out of Mayes’ Office appears to have taken place earlier in the week. In the release from her office, it was stated that “Attorney General Mayes announced the ban in an email to Arizona Attorney General Office employees earlier this week.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.