WASHINGTON — Wisconsin’s top Republicans want Governor Tony Evers to take down TikTok.
In a letter to the Democratic governor on Tuesday, the state’s Republican delegation in Washington called on Evers to ban the popular video-sharing app from state government devices and asked him to delete his own account, arguing that the Chinese government can use TikTok to spy on users and promote Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
“The people of Wisconsin expect their Governor to be aware of the dangerous national security threats posed by TikTok and to protect them from this avenue for CCP intelligence operations,” the letter, signed by the representatives. Americans Mike Gallagher, Tom Tiffany, Glenn Grothman, Bryan Steil and Scott Fitzgerald, as well as US Senator Ron Johnson, read. “As governor, you must ban this app from state government devices.”
The letter to Evers comes amid an extensive review of the phone app and follows warnings from US intelligence officials that TikTok, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, poses a potential national security risk.
Last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress that the Chinese government could use certain aspects of the app’s programming to “control the collection of data from millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm. , which can be used for influence operations”. Wray also suggested the app could be used to control software on devices, potentially compromising phones with the app.
A spokesperson for Evers, which has used TikTok during the campaign trail, said Tuesday that Evers’ administration and the Administration Department’s Enterprise Technology Division “take cybersecurity very seriously and are consulting with U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and counterintelligence specialists routinely make cybersecurity decisions for state government devices.”
“We will continue to rely on the judgment and advice of law enforcement, cybersecurity and counterintelligence experts regarding this and other evolving cybersecurity issues,” the carrier said. word.
Earlier Tuesday, Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback suggested Republicans should have called the governor to raise their concerns.
“My favorite part of the Wisconsin Republicans’ narrative ~we want to work together~ is when they send an official three-page letter that could have been a phone call just for them to flee to the press and get stories like this- ci”, Cudaback wrote on Twitter. “In the spirit of bipartisanship, of course!”
Evers does not have a personal or official TikTok account, the governor’s office said. Its TikTok campaign was maintained by a device of the state government, in accordance with Wisconsin law.
Gallagher, a Republican from Green Bay who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has openly opposed TikTok in recent weeks, comparing the phone app to “digital fentanyl” and saying it could empower the government Chinese to track a user’s information. location and keystrokes.
In an editorial published last month in The Washington Post, Gallagher and Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio called for the app, which reached 1 billion users last year, to be banned in the United States.
“Unless TikTok and its algorithm can be separated from Beijing, use of the app in the United States will continue to compromise our country’s security and pave the way for a Chinese-influenced tech landscape here,” they said. wrote the two men.
TikTok officials, meanwhile, testified that US user data is stored in the United States. The app’s chief operating officer, Vanessa Pappas, told members of Congress that TikTok has never shared data with the Chinese government.
Tuesday’s letter from Republicans in Wisconsin cited concerns from the intelligence community, as well as news reports, including those about how TikTok may censor posts that disagree with the Chinese government and monitor someone’s specific location. ‘a.
Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Republicans note in the letter, issued an executive order last week banning state employees from accessing TikTok on state-owned devices.
“We urge you to follow Governor Noem’s lead and examine your own legal authorities to ban TikTok from Wisconsin state government devices,” the letter read.
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