To avoid any security dangers that the platform could provide, the state of Maryland restricts using TikTok within executive government offices.
TikTok might put government employees’ private and sensitive information in danger, according to Republican governor of Maryland Larry Hogan. Due to concerns about websites and platforms obtaining critical information from the US, Hogan added the prohibition on platforms with Russian origins. Other states have also outlawed TikTok, which prompted this decision. Nebraska, South Dakota, and South Carolina are among the states.
“There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives. Therefore, to further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us,” Hogan said.
“We are always happy to meet with state policymakers to discuss our privacy and security practices. However, we are disappointed that the many state agencies, offices, and universities that have been using TikTok to build communities and connect with constituents will no longer have access to our platform,” said TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown.
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TikTok banned by Maryland and other states
Wisconsin and other states called on other states to do the same. TikTok endangers national security, claim the MPs. Senior leaders have subsequently emphasized the risks posed by TikTok and called on Congress to investigate the app. This includes President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. A video of TikTok workers discussing access to US-based data also caused the Federal Bureau of Investigation to sound the warnings.
“They include the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users. Or control the recommendation algorithm. This could be used to influence operations if they so choose. Or to control software on millions of devices. This allows it to compromise personal devices potentially technically,” FBI director Cristopher Wray said.
“We will continue to defer to the judgment and advice of law enforcement, cybersecurity, and counterintelligence experts regarding this and other evolving cybersecurity issues,” added Britt Cudaback.
“Wisconsinites expect their governor to be aware of the dangerous national security threats TikTok poses. And to protect them from this avenue for CCP intelligence operations,” explained several lawmakers in a letter.
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An exaggeration of the risks
Others claim they overstate the threats, contrary to what politicians think. For example, James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist, said that the risk is far lower than what politicians have claimed. However, TikTok kept to its stance on the issue. Further, it said it could not access any data from users residing in the US.
“Intelligence agencies routinely scrape social media to collect biographical information. And do not need ownership of TikTok (or any other social media platform) to do this,” said Lewis.
“The question is, how much more does China obtain by having access to TikTok data that is not publicly available? There is probably some benefit, but it is likely small,” he added.
“As Director Wray specified in his remarks, the FBI’s input is being considered as part of our ongoing negotiations with the US Government. We can’t comment on the specifics of those confidential discussions. And we are confident that we are on a path to satisfy all reasonable US national security concerns fully,” a spokesperson said.
Photo Credit: Chris Delmas