South Dakota Bans TikTok on Government Devices

Rita Li
By Rita Li
November 30, 2022China News

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed on Nov. 29 an executive order banning access to the video platform TikTok on state employee devices, citing its ties to Beijing.

The governor’s office said the China-owned social media giant, which harvested private data “on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party [CCP],” posed a growing national security threat against American users.

“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of nations who hate us,” said Noem. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform.”

An October report revealed that TikTok approved 90 percent of political advertisements containing false and misleading information about the 2022 midterm elections.

The order goes into effect immediately, applying to government employees, agencies, and contractors who can no longer download the app or access it via web browser on state-owned or state-leased electronic devices capable of connecting to the internet.

“Because of our serious duty to protect the private data of South Dakota citizens, we must take this action immediately,” Noem continued. “I hope other states will follow South Dakota’s lead, and Congress should take broader action, as well.”

ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new executive order.

With more than 1 billion active users globally, TikTok counts the United States as its largest market. It stores all U.S. user data on Oracle data servers within the country, with backups in its own data centers in Virginia and Singapore.

The company has repeatedly said it allows certain employees outside the United States, including China, to have restricted access to TikTok’s U.S. user data “on an as-needed basis” due to their specific roles.

A June report by BuzzFeed, however, unveiled leaked audio from 80 TikTok internal meetings, showing U.S. engineers had to rely on their China-based colleagues “to determine how U.S. user data was flowing.”

The news outlet alleged that one Beijing-based engineer “has access to everything,” citing a September 2021 meeting, while a TikTok executive testified before a Senate panel last year that a “world-renowned” U.S.-based security team decides who can access user data from China.

Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, declared last October that the company does “not share information with the Chinese government.”

In a Nov. 10 press release, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) said the video-sharing platform is a “major threat to national security.” Both lawmakers introduced legislation prohibiting China-controlled social media companies, including TikTok, from operating in the United States.

From The Epoch Times

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