Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced TikTok will be banned from government devices in the state due to national security concerns related to the social media platform’s China-based parent company.
Murphy issued a cybersecurity directive Monday prohibiting high-risk software vendors, products and services such as TikTok from being used on State-provided or -managed devices. The directive also named prominent China-based firms, including Huawei, Tencent, WeChat, ZTE and Alibaba, according to a press release from Gov. Murphy.
I’m issuing a cybersecurity directive to prohibit the use of high-risk software and services, including TikTok, on State provided or managed devices with some exceptions — ensuring the confidentiality, integrity & safety of State information.
Learn more: https://t.co/6mtvbwhcpl
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) January 9, 2023
“Bolstering cybersecurity is critical to protecting the overall safety and welfare of our State,” Gov. Murphy said in the press release. “The proactive and preventative measures that we are implementing today will ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and safety of information assets managed by New Jersey State government. This decisive action will ensure the cybersecurity of the State is unified against actors who may seek to divide us.”
Murphy is the latest governor to ban TikTok from government-issued devices over security concerns. Over a dozen U.S. states have banned TikTok from employee devices because of national security apprehensions related to ByteDance, the platform’s China-based parent company. (RELATED: Lawmakers Are Still Using TikTok After Voting To Ban It On Federal Government Devices)
ByteDance allegedly promoted pro-China content and demoted anti-China content on its now-defunct news app, TopBuzz, Buzzfeed reported in July. ByteDance ostensibly denied the accusations from former TopBuzz employees. Leaked audio of 80 internal TikTok meetings showed China-based ByteDance employees repeatedly accessed nonpublic U.S. user data, the outlet reported in June.
ByteDance engineers based in China and the U.S. spied on journalist Emily Baker-White, who reported on the company for Buzzfeed and Forbes, according to an internal investigation cited by the New York Times (NYT). ByteDance fired the employees allegedly involved and pledged to better protect U.S. data, according to the NYT.
“We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok. TikTok is loved by millions of Americans, and it is unfortunate that the many state agencies, offices, universities, student groups, and sports teams in those states will no longer be able to use TikTok to build communities and share information,” A TikTok spokesperson told the Daily Caller.
“We are continuing to work with the federal government to finalize a solution that will meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at the federal and state level. These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies — plans that we are well underway in implementing — to further secure our platform in the United States, and we will continue to brief lawmakers on them,” the spokesperson added.
TikTok is currently under national security review by the Treasury Department’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which cited concerns about ByteDance’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Negotiations have been delayed by additional concerns held by U.S. national security officials, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As part of its negotiations, TikTok pledged to create a U.S. subsidiary for its American user data, with oversight by third parties such as national security experts and Oracle Corp., Reuters reported. It’s unclear if the company’s new oversight measures would prevent ByteDance from succumbing to the pressures of the CCP to turn over its data.