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No more TikTok on House of Representatives’ smartphones

No more TikTok on House of Representatives’ smartphones

TikTok will no longer be allowed on any device managed by the US House of Representatives. On Tuesday, the House’s Chief Administrative Office announced the ban of the popular video-sharing app, a move that comes just a week after legislation that would bar TikTok from all federal devices was introduced.

Congresspersons and their staffers will not be able to download the app on managed devices, the CAO’s Office of Cybersecurity said in an email seen by Reuters. The mobile app is a “high risk to users due to a number of security risks,” the email said.

“If you have the TikTok app on your House mobile device, you will be contacted to remove it,” the email continued.

Potential federal bans aside, TikTok is already at least partially banned from government-owned devices in 19 states. And the federal omnibus spending bill passed last week will put the kibosh on TikTok when it comes to all federally managed smartphones and devices.

TikTok has been in discussions with the federal government over the security of user data, offering assurances that data on US-based users would be stored on servers within the US that are inaccessible to China-based employees.

Those assurances are even more likely to fall flat after we learned TikTok was spying on reporters. Four employees of TikTok parent ByteDance surveilled a handful of journalists, using IP and log-in data, routinely accessing the journalists’ TikTok accounts as part of an internal investigation of who was leaking company material to reporters. ByteDance fired Chief Internal Auditor Chris Lepitak, the head of team behind the surveillance campaign, along with a few employees.

2023 is going to be a challenging year for both TikTok and its owner ByteDance. Short of selling the app to an American owner, which ByteDance is apparently unwilling to do, there seems to be very little the company can do to assuage governments’ growing privacy and user-tracking concerns.

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