JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — TikTok will be banned from all Mississippi-issued government devices and the state’s network, Gov. Tate Reeves announced Wednesday in a letter to department and agency heads.
The Republican said he issued the directive to safeguard sensitive information from the popular social media app, which is owned by private Chinese company ByteDance Ltd. The app’s ownership has raised fears that Beijing could use it to scoop up user data or push pro-China narratives or misinformation.
Reeves cited concerns over “extensive tracking of user data and the potential access and transfer of this data to the Chinese government.”
“It’s no secret that the Chinese Communist Party is actively trying to steal U.S. intellectual property and Americans’ personal information," Reeves said in a news release. “Mississippi isn’t going to sit around waiting for the Chinese Communist Party to steal our state government data."
TikTok has said it prioritizes its community’s privacy and security and that it is working to address security concerns raised by the U.S.
Similar moves to prohibit TikTok on government devices have been made by top officials in about one-third of U.S. states, a large share of them Republicans. On Jan. 6, Wisconsin's Democratic governor announced he plans to introduce a ban on the use of TikTok on state phones. Kansas' Democratic governor has also issued a ban.
Congress recently banned TikTok from most U.S. government-issued devices over bipartisan concerns about security.
Reeves' directive would compel state agencies to ensure no state employees download or use TikTok or other software applications developed by ByteDance on state-issued devices. He also directed the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services to block access to TikTok from the state network.
Mississippi state employees have been directed to remove, delete and uninstall all relevant applications from state-issued devices by Jan. 31.
Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.