Rep. Tiffany calling for TikTok ban on Wisconsin government devices

Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 9:24 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) -- From viral dance trends to comedy clips and everything in between, TikTok has become a massive social media platform.

But several Wisconsin lawmakers are raising concerns over the app’s use and its potential security threats.

Congressman Tom Tiffany represents Northwest Wisconsin in Washington.

He and fellow republican Representatives Mike Gallagher, Scott Fitzgerald, Glenn Grotham, Bryan Steil and Senator Ron Johnson sent a letter to Governor Tony Evers Tuesday urging him to ban the use of TikTok on government official devices.

Tiffany claims TikTok’s parent company, Beijing-headquartered ByteDance, could potentially be forced to give data to the Chinese Government.

“It’s become more widely known over the last couple of years that TikTok is tied to the Communist Party in China, and poses a national security threat,” Tiffany said.

Nebraska, Maryland, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas have all banned the app’s use on government official devices so far.

“That’s the concern is that it could compromise people’s private data that the state government is holding,” Tiffany said.

The app, which said it hit a billion monthly users in September 2021, uses an algorithm to personalize what kind of content users see on their feeds.

While TikTok claims there have been no data requests from the Chinese government, University of Wisconsin-Superior security analyst Josh Waring said concerns about data privacy issues are valid.

“The key operative word here is ‘potentially,’ there is definitely a risk and the risk comes from the fact that TikTok’s parent company is a Chinese company, and there are concerns over how much control or influence the Chinese government could have over TikTok through that parent company,” said Waring.

Waring said data privacy isn’t a potential issue with just TikTok, but any social media app.

“As with any social media platform users should just be careful and cognizant with using it,” Waring said.

Governor Evers has yet to respond to the letter.

He does not have an official TikTok account, but his re-election campaign did use the app leading up to November’s election.

To read the full letter to Gov. Evers, click here.