By Corinne Murdock |
TikTok may soon be banned from Arizona’s government devices, according to a proposed bill that passed out of committee on Wednesday. The House Government Committee passed the legislation unanimously.
State Rep. Matt Gress (R-LD04) introduced the ban through a strike-everything amendment rewriting HB2416. Gress coordinated with House Government Committee Chairman Tim Dunn (R-LD25) to craft the legislation.
During the committee hearing, Gress relayed remarks from FBI Director Christopher Wray issued last year concerning national security concerns on government devices with TikTok. Wray warned that the Chinese government is capable of controlling recommendation algorithms to implement influence operations, or control software on devices with the option to possibly compromise personal devices.
Gress reminded the committee that other bad actors rely on TikTok besides the Chinese government, such as the Mexican cartels. The ban would include specific carveouts for law enforcement addressing cartels relying on the app.
“The cartels use TikTok to recruit many of their contractors to wreak havoc in the United States,” said Gress.
In a Tuesday press release ahead of the committee approval of the legislation, Gress reminded Arizonans that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which controls TikTok, is capable of gathering data on American citizens’ internet activity through the app.
“When I was sworn into office, I took an oath to defend my constituents and all Arizonans from enemies both foreign and domestic,” said Gress. “This legislation fulfills this promise as the security risks associated with the use of TikTok — an application owned and operated by the Chinese Communist Party with the capabilities of gathering crucial details about personal, private internet activity — can’t be ignored.”
The legislation would require the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) to remove TikTok from all information technology devices used for state business and public services within 30 days after enactment.
25 states have banned TikTok on all state devices, with three states banning the app from certain state devices. The states that have banned the app from all state devices are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Florida, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia banned the app from certain state devices.
Last November, FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee that the parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, could monitor Americans through the app.
“There’s a number of concerns there as to what is actually happening and actually being done,” said Wray. “That’s probably something that would be better addressed in a closed, classified setting, and I could see what information we might be able to share that way, but that’s probably not much more than I could add to that, other than to say it is certainly something that’s on our radar, and we share your concerns.”
ByteDance also revealed to U.S. reporters last year that it had planned to use TikTok to monitor the physical location of specific Americans for surveillance purposes.