WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is giving all federal agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from all government devices, as the Chinese-owned social media app comes under increasing scrutiny in Washington over security concerns.
The Office of Management and Budget calls the guidance, issued Monday, “a critical step forward in addressing the app’s risks to sensitive government data.” Some agencies, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State, already have restrictions in place; The directive calls for the rest of the federal government to follow suit within 30 days.
The White House already disallows TikTok on its devices.
“The Biden-Harris Administration has invested heavily in protecting our nation’s digital infrastructure and limiting foreign access to Americans’ data,” said Chris DeRusha, the federal chief information security officer. “This guidance is part of the Administration’s ongoing commitment to securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the security and privacy of the American people.”
The guidance was first reported by Reuters.
Congress passed the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” in December as part of the government’s funding package. The legislation allows the use of TikTok in certain situations, including for national security, law enforcement and research purposes.
TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said on Monday: “TikTok’s ban on federal devices was passed in December without any discussion, and unfortunately that approach has become a blueprint for other governments around the world. These bans are just political theatre.”
House Republicans are expected to move forward on Tuesday with a bill that would give Biden the power to ban TikTok nationwide. The legislation, proposed by Representative Mike McCaul, seeks to circumvent the challenges the administration would face in court if it went ahead with sanctions against the social media company.
If passed, the proposal would allow the administration to ban not only TikTok but any software applications that threaten national security. McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has been a vocal critic of the app, saying it is being used by the Chinese Communist Party to “manipulate and monitor its users while putting Americans’ data to use for their malignancy. activities.”
“Anyone who has downloaded TikTok on their device has backdoored the CCP with all of their personal information. It’s a spy balloon into your phone,” the Texas Republican said in a statement Monday.
Sen. Bob Menendez, DNJ., his Senate colleague, did not shut down the idea of the chamber adopting a proposal that would allow Biden to take action against TikTok, saying it was “something to consider.”
Oberwetter said: “We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government devices, Congress will explore solutions that don’t have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans.”
TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance Ltd., remains popular and is used by two-thirds of teenagers in the United States. But there are bigger concerns that Beijing could gain control over the data of American users who have accessed the app.
The company is dismissive of the ban on federal devices and noted that it is developing security and data privacy plans as part of the Biden administration’s ongoing national security review.
Canada also announced on Monday that it is banning TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices. The European Union’s executive branch said last week it has temporarily banned TikTok from phones used by employees as a cyber security measure.
Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.