Mississippi Governor Bans TikTok From State Devices and Networks

Mississippi Governor Bans TikTok From State Devices and Networks
A symbol of TikTok (Douyin) is pictured at The Place shopping mall at dusk in Beijing, on Aug. 22, 2020. (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Matt McGregor

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has joined more than 20 other states in banning TikTok from all state-issued government devices “to protect critical infrastructure.”

“It’s no secret that the Chinese Communist Party is actively trying to steal U.S. intellectual property and Americans’ personal information. It’s a major threat to our national security and critical infrastructure, costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions annually, and jeopardizes American jobs,” Reeves, a Republican, said in a press release issued on Jan. 11.

“Mississippi isn’t going to sit around waiting for the Chinese Communist Party to steal our state government data, and that’s why I issued this directive. It will help us better protect our state’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure,” he added.

In addition to issuing a directive to have the app removed from state devices, Reeves directed state departments to enforce restrictions on employees downloading TikTok, or any other software developed by ByteDance Ltd., the company that owns TikTok and employs Chinese Communist Party members.

Furthermore, Reeves directed the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services to block access to TikTok from state networks.

“Legitimate concerns have been raised over TikTok’s extensive tracking of user data and the potential access and transfer of this data to the Chinese government,” the press release states.

The next day, the governors from North Carolina and Wisconsin signed orders banning the app.

North Carolina and Wisconsin Follow

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ordered the state chief information officer to work with the state department of information technology to develop a policy within 14 days that prohibits TikTok, WeChat, and any other application that presents a cybersecurity risk.

“It’s important for us to protect state information technology from foreign countries that have actively participated in cyberattacks against the United States,” said Cooper in a press release. “Protecting North Carolina from cyber threats is vital to ensuring the safety, security, privacy, and success of our state and its people.”

In December, North Carolina Reps. Jason Saine and Jon Hardister, both Republicans, sent a letter to the Democrat governor (pdf) insisting that Cooper remove the Chinese video app “swiftly and decisively,” deeming it to be a “matter of national security.”

“As we know, the Chinese government is constantly working to infiltrate our communications and access intellectual data within the United States,” Saine and Hardister wrote. “If sensitive data is breached, it could pose both an economic and security threat for North Carolina. We have a responsibility to prevent this from happening, which is why we are urging an executive order as soon as possible.”

Saine and Hardister referenced past orders, such as the chief administrative officer for the U.S. House of Representatives issuing an order on Wednesday for all lawmakers to delete the app on all devices managed by the House.

The $1.7 trillion omnibus bill President Joe Biden signed into law in December includes legislation banning the social media app from government devices over national security concerns.

Also in December, Indiana became the 20th state to block TikTok from being used on state devices.

In addition, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, a Republican, filed two lawsuits against TikTok stating that the app made false claims.

“The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harms it inflicts on users,” Rokita said in a press release. “With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law.”