Governor Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that Maryland would forbid using TikTok and some other platforms with Chinese or Russian roots in the state’s executive arm of government.
This makes Maryland the latest state to confront the cybersecurity threats posed by the platforms.
According to the Republican governor, the platforms might be used for cyberespionage, government monitoring, and the improper acquisition of sensitive personal data.
He, therefore, issued an emergency cybersecurity edict that forbade their usage.
Hogan stated that “the cyber vulnerabilities that enable our daily lives may be the greatest threat to our personal safety and national security” and that “we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and groups that aim to weaken and divide us.”
The Maryland order comes a week after South Dakota’s Republican governor, Kristi Noem, forbade state workers and contractors from using TikTok on state-owned devices, citing the app’s connections to China. Republican Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina requested on Monday that TikTok be removed from all state-owned devices from the state’s Department of Administration.
In August 2020, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts disabled TikTok on government-owned technology.
The app is also not allowed on military devices, according to the US armed forces.
Holden Triplett, a former FBI government officer who worked in Beijing in counterintelligence, is a co-founder of Trenchcoat Advisors. “It is a risk that most governments are starting to understand it’s not worth taking,” he said.
Although there is a substantial discussion regarding whether the Chinese government is actively gathering data from TikTok, Triplett claimed that the program has a glaring vulnerability.
ByteDance, the business that owns TikTok, must accede to any prospective requests by Chinese security and intelligence agencies for data handover because it is a Chinese corporation, he added. This data may include the whereabouts and contacts of employees.
In 2020, ByteDance relocated its corporate headquarters there.
According to a recent analysis from the NGO Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy team at New York University, TikTok has struggled to identify advertising that contains blatantly false information about U.S. elections.
The worries regarding driving restrictions, according to TikTok spokeswoman Jamal Brown, “are mostly motivated by a misunderstanding about our firm.”
According to Brown, we always welcome the opportunity to speak with state policymakers about our privacy and security procedures.
“We are disappointed that the numerous state offices, organizations, and academic institutions that used TikTok to create communities and communicate with their audience will no longer have access to our platform.”
According to Los Angeles-based TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, all American users’ data is protected by the company, and no one from the Chinese government can access it.