Since political pressure on the Chinese-owned social video app TikTok has been mounting, it has been removed from all House-issued devices. Catherine Szpindor, the House’s chief administrative officer (CAO), issued the directive to remove the app after receiving a warning from her office in August that it posed a “high risk to users.”
A memo obtained by NBC News claims that all House members and employees who use House-issued mobile phones have been instructed to uninstall the app TikTok by Szpindor.
NBC’s report on the memo, it states emphatically that no member of the House staff is permitted to install the TikTok app on any House mobile device. “You will be contacted to uninstall the TikTok app from any House-issued mobile device.” Reuters also covered the news of the shift.
U.S. House of Representatives issued a statement confirming the ban, reading in part, “we can confirm that the Committee on House Administration has authorized the CAO Office of Cybersecurity to initiate the removal of TikTok Social Media Service from all House-managed devices.”
Because of its “lack of transparency in how it protects customer data,” the CAO issued a “cyber advisory” calling TikTok a high-risk app back in August. It claimed that ByteDance, based in Beijing, “actively harvests content for identifiable data” and stores some user data in China on servers located in China. The company claims that the United States and Singapore are its primary data centers, not China.
TikTok Is In Talks With The Department Of Justice To Reach An Agreement That Will Allay Security Concerns
TikTok has consistently denied that there is any reason to be concerned about the way it handles user data, claiming that data pertaining to users in the United States is not stored in China and is not shared with the Chinese government. In a statement released last week after Congress passed the spending bill, the company promised to “meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at both the federal and state level.”
Though members of the House of Representatives and their staffs have been ordered to delete TikTok, this order does not yet extend to the Senate, where many senators maintain active accounts. Some US senators, including Marco Rubio (R-FL), have recently called for a complete ban on TikTok across the country.
If TikTok wants to win over the trust of the United States government, it has its work cut out for it. Despite claims that it has never been used to specifically target individuals like members of the US government or journalists, an internal investigation conducted on December 23rd revealed that several ByteDance employees had accessed the TikTok data of US journalists.
Legislators And Staffers Were Urged To Remove The App From Their Mobile Devices
TikTok is strictly prohibited on all House-issued mobile devices, per an internal memo. TikTok users who have the app installed on House-issued mobile devices can expect to be contacted directly to have it deleted.
Congress last week passed a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill that included a provision prohibiting the use of the video-sharing app TikTok on certain government-owned devices.
All devices used by the executive branch were required to be free of the app and any other software developed by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company that owns TikTok; however, this rule did not apply to members of Congress or their staff.
The Senate is not bound by the House’s directive; some senators, like Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), have called for a nationwide ban on the app.
After the midterm elections, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned lawmakers that the Chinese government might use TikTok to influence or espionage through the use of device control.
The business announced its efforts last week to “address in a substantial way any federal or state security concerns that have been raised. We will continue to brief lawmakers on the progress of these plans, which have been developed with the guidance of the United States’ top national security agencies and are currently being put into action to make our platform even more secure in the United States.”
After receiving multiple reports about a user’s account and determining that the content is inappropriate for the TikTok community, the account’s owner may decide to permanently disable the user’s account. Commonly, this occurs when another user reports your content.