North Carolina and Wisconsin on Thursday banned TikTok from government-issued devices. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 13 (UPI) -- The governors of North Carolina and Wisconsin have added their states to the growing list that have banned government officials from using TikTok amid growing fears over national security and user data safety on the Chinese-owned social media platform.
More than 20 states have now prohibited TikTok from state-owned devices, including computers and mobile phones, via executive orders, with Nebraska and Florida seemingly being the first to enforce the restriction back in August of 2020.
The executive order signed by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, on Thursday not only targets TikTok but, WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging service, as well as other apps that could present cybersecurity risks.
"It's important for us to protect state information technology from foreign countries that have actively participated in cyberattacks against the United States," Cooper said in a statement. "Protecting North Carolina from cyberthreats is vital to ensuring the safety, security, privacy and success of our state and its people."
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers similarly banned TikTok and WeChat, but also Alibaba products, such as Alipay. The ban also impacts Chinese tech companies, Huawei, ZTE and others.
"Defending our state's technology and cybersecurity infrastructure and protecting digital privacy will continue to be a top priority," the Democratic governor said in a statement. "This order ensures we remain vigilant in monitoring new technologies and evolving cybersecurity issues."
The social media platform is wildly popular, with 94 million users in the United States last year, but it has been a target of Republican politicians for years due to its potential connections to the Chinese Communist Party as it is owned by the China-based ByteDance.
The issue has grown more bipartisan following reports that U.S. user data has been repeatedly accessed from the Asian nation and after FBI Director Christopher Wray warned members of Congress late last year that the Chinese government could use it to control users' devices.
Last month, Congress banned federal workers from the platform. The Pentagon, and the Transportation Security Administration had also previously banned their employees from the platform on government-issued devices.