White House Gives Federal Agencies 30-day Deadline on TikTok Ban

February 28, 2023


The White House on Monday gave federal agencies 30 days to enforce a ban on the video sharing app TikTok on government devices.

Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young told agencies they will be required to adjust information technology contracts to ensure vendors keep U.S. data safe by eliminating the use of TikTok on their devices and systems.

The removal of the Chinese-owned app was initiated in December when Congress included language to ban TikTok on federal devices in the $1.7 trillion year-end omnibus spending bill.

Among its language, the bill ordered the OMB and the General Services Administration (GSA) to create guidelines for executive agencies to remove TikTok from government devices. The plan and guidelines were required by mid-February.

The government agencies covered in the federal TikTok ban include the White House, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department.

The government’s ban does not include accessing TikTok by officials if there are national security, law enforcement or security research activities, but agencies’ leadership must approve these activities.

The move comes as more than two dozen U.S. states have banned TikTok on government employees’ devices and laptops.

On Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee was set to vote on a bill that would give President Biden the authority to ban TikTok from all U.S. devices. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have been calling for a nationwide ban on TikTok for all Americans.

The actions follow warnings from FBI Director Chris Wray, who said in November that the Chinese government could use TikTok to control data collection on millions of American users, or to control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations.

Earlier on Monday, Canada announced its own ban on TikTok from government-issued devices, saying it presents an “unacceptable” level of risk to privacy and security.

In response, TikTok owner ByteDance has said the concerns are fueled by misinformation and has denied using the app to spy on Westerners. 

The Chinese-based company announced earlier this month it was planning two additional European data centers, purportedly to alleviate concerns from authorities in the West. Even so, the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission banned TikTok from all of its 32,000 staffers’ official devices last week.

According to reports, TikTok has more than 1 billion monthly active users in more than 150 countries worldwide as of the last quarter of 2022, including a reported 135 million users in the U.S., the majority of whom are 18-24 years old. 

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

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