Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Application Security

U.S. Senators Seek to Ban TikTok on Government Devices

New bill seeks to ban TikTok on government devices

New bill seeks to ban TikTok on government devices

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) this week introduced a bill aimed at banning the use of the China-made TikTok application on government devices.

Referred to as the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act,” the new legislation would prevent government employees, diplomats, and politicians from downloading or using TikTok or other applications from the same developer on their government-issued phones.

A global phenomenon, TikTok allows users to create and share short comedy or talent videos. Built by Beijing-based ByteDance in 2016, the application was released on Android and iOS in 2017 and has over 1 billion users.

Last year, U.S. senators warned that Chinese companies might be forced by the government in their country to provide intelligence to the Chinese Communist Party, but TikTok denied it. However, concerns regarding the application’s misuse led to the U.S. Army banning its use on government phones.

In early January 2020, Check Point revealed that TikTok was plagued by multiple vulnerabilities that could allow attackers to upload fake videos and leak sensitive information, and at a Senate hearing last week U.S. officials warned about the potential security risks posed by the application.

Sen. Hawley, who convened the hearing, said at the time he was working on a bill to ban the application’s use on official devices, and the legislation was introduced this week.

“No employee of the United States, officer of the United States, Member of Congress, congressional employee, or officer or employee of a government corporation may download or use TikTok or any successor application developed by ByteDance or any entity owned by ByteDance on any device issued by the United States or a government corporation,” the bill reads (PDF).

According to the legislation, the application’s use would still be permitted for “investigation, cybersecurity research activity, enforcement action, disciplinary action, or intelligence activity.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The two senators supporting the bill argue that the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and TSA have already banned the use of TikTok on federal government devices.

“TikTok is owned by a Chinese company that includes Chinese Communist Party members on its board, and it is required by law to share user data with Beijing. The company even admitted it collects user data while their app is running in the background – including the messages people send, pictures they share, their keystrokes and location data, you name it. As many of our federal agencies have already recognized, TikTok is a major security risk to the United States, and it has no place on government devices,” Sen. Hawley commented.

Related: China’s TikTok Lures ADP Security Chief to Become New CISO

Related: US Lawmakers Told of Security Risks From China-owned TikTok

Related: China-Made TikTok App Riddled With Security Holes: Researchers

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment


Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

Gain valuable insights from industry professionals who will help guide you through the intricacies of industrial cybersecurity.


Join us for an in depth exploration of the critical nature of software and vendor supply chain security issues with a focus on understanding how attacks against identity infrastructure come with major cascading effects.


Expert Insights

Related Content

Application Security

Cycode, a startup that provides solutions for protecting software source code, emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday with $4.6 million in seed funding.

CISO Strategy

SecurityWeek spoke with more than 300 cybersecurity experts to see what is bubbling beneath the surface, and examine how those evolving threats will present...

CISO Conversations

Joanna Burkey, CISO at HP, and Kevin Cross, CISO at Dell, discuss how the role of a CISO is different for a multinational corporation...

Risk Management

The supply chain threat is directly linked to attack surface management, but the supply chain must be known and understood before it can be...

CISO Conversations

In this issue of CISO Conversations we talk to two CISOs about solving the CISO/CIO conflict by combining the roles under one person.

CISO Strategy

Security professionals understand the need for resilience in their company’s security posture, but often fail to build their own psychological resilience to stress.