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Gov. Cooper reviews TikTok use on employee devices

Governor Roy Cooper
NC Department of Public Safety
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration said it’s reviewing the use of TikTok on state government devices, as the popular social media app is a growing source of security concerns from politicians in Washington and other states.

The comment from a Cooper spokesperson came after two key state House Republicans asked the Democratic governor on Wednesday to issue an executive order banning the app on state-issued computers, phones and other equipment.

“This is a matter of national security, and it is imperative that action be taken swiftly and decisively,” Reps. Jason Saine of Lincoln County and Jon Hardister of Guilford County wrote to Cooper. “If sensitive data is breached, it could pose both an economic and a security threat for North Carolina.”

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd, which both the FBI and the Federal Communications Commission have warned could share data with China’s authoritarian government. Lawmakers have said this includes browsing history and location.

Worries about the privacy of users’ data and the spread of misinformation has led Republican governors in over 15 states to impose restrictions on employees’ devices. And an omnibus spending bill heading to President Joe Biden also bans TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices.

Cooper spokesperson Mary Scott Winstead said in an email that “the state is constantly updating guidance to ensure cyber security and is reviewing state government use of TikTok and considering potential additional safety measures.”

If there isn’t a forthcoming executive order, Hardister and Saine wrote that they’ll work “swiftly” in the legislative session beginning next month to “advance legislation to ban TikTok on all government-issued devices in North Carolina.” Any legislation would need both House and Senate approval.

During the recent two-year session, Saine was a senior chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee and co-chairman of the legislature’s Oversight Committee on Information Technology. Hardister is the House majority whip.

The Associated Press
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