Alabama and Utah on Monday became the latest two states to ban the use of the Chinese-owned app TikTok on state government devices and computer networks due to national security concerns.
The bans follow warnings from FBI Director Chris Wray, who said last month that the Chinese government could use the video sharing app to control data collection on millions of American users, or to control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations.
This past summer, two House Republicans, James Comer of Kentucky and Cathy McMorris Rodgers pressed TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew for more info on its access to U.S. data, while Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether TikTok misled users about the safety of their data.
TikTok has pushed back, saying that it has been working on securing data flows and highlighting its progress on a deal to move American information onto Texas-headquartered Oracle servers.
Meanwhile, Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a tweet on Monday that at least nine states have taken action on TikTok “based on the serious security threats it presents,” including Alabama and Utah.
States that have banned the app on government devices include Texas, Maryland and South Dakota, while Indiana sued TikTok over the allegations it’s deceiving users about its access to data as well as exposing children to mature content.
A company spokesperson said in a statement Monday, “We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the bandwagon to enact policies based on unfounded, politically charged falsehoods about TikTok.”