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Gov. Tony Evers signs executive order banning TikTok on state-issued devices in Wisconsin

"Defending our state's technology and cyber security infrastructure and protecting digital privacy will continue to be a top priority," Gov. Evers said in a statement Thursday.
Posted at 3:00 PM, Jan 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-13 13:55:21-05

MADISON, Wis. — Governor Tony Evers signed an executive order Thursday, banning TikTok on state-issued devices.

Executive Order #184 bans TikTok and other technologies that may be a threat to cybersecurity.

"Defending our state's technology and cyber security infrastructure and protecting digital privacy will continue to be a top priority," Gov. Evers said in a statement Thursday.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance Ltd., which has a subsidiary that is partially owned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The app can also harvest large amounts of data from devices that the app is installed on, including the user's internet activity.

According to the executive order, China's 2017 National Intelligence Law states that all businesses registered or that have operations in China are required to assist the government of China in intelligence work. That intelligence work includes data sharing and collecting.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, that intelligence work poses national security concerns that could compromise data security on both a personal and governmental level.

Evers began considering a ban on state devices in December of 2022. Republican members of Wisconsin's congressional delegation had called on Evers early in the month to ban the app, citing their concerns that the Chinese government could use TikTok to spy on users and spread propaganda.

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The executive order says there are foreign entities that may allegedly be able to:

  • Allow manufacturers to collect sensitive information including personal and financial data
  • Enable things like email to be compromised
  • Allow ransomware to be deployed
  • Spy on government entities
  • Track and watch users
  • Modify algorithms to spread misinformation and propaganda

According to Evers, out of thousands of state Wisconsin employees, only about 10-20 people may be using TikTok on state-issued devices.

There are currently several bills to regulate or ban TikTok and other apps pending in Congress. The U.S. armed forces have also prohibited TikTok on military devices.

While there has been much debate about whether the Chinese government is actively collecting data from the app, TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas has said the company protects all American users’ data and that Chinese government officials have no access to it.

All apps currently included in the Wisconsin ban on state-issued devices include:

  • TikTok
  • Huawei Technologies
  • ZTE Corp
  • Hytera Communications Corporation
  • Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company
  • Dashua Technology Company
  • Tencent Holdings, included but not limited to:
    • Tencent QQ
    • QQ Wallet
    • WeChat
  • Alibaba products, included but not limited to:
    • AliPay
  • Kaspersky Lab

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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