Virginia bill would ban TikTok from government devices

Virginia bill would ban TikTok from government devices

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC -) — Several states are announcing new restrictions on popular app TikTok, and Virginia may soon take similar action.

Republican governors in at least six states have issued executive orders banning the Chinese-owned social media platform from government-issued devices like cellphones and laptops. These states include Maryland, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

In an interview Friday, State Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover) said he plans to introduce a similar bill in the Virginia General Assembly when the 2023 session begins next month, but he hopes Governor Glenn Youngkin will act sooner as FBI warns of possible national security threats.

“The best-case scenario would be for the governor to issue an executive order for this to happen immediately,” McDougle said. “They shouldn’t be able to pick up secrets from state government or higher education institutions doing research.”

Governor Youngkin had made no announcement Friday evening. Macaulay Porter, spokesman for Youngkin, did not respond when asked if an executive order was in the works.

Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Republicans, said the caucus was discussing legislation “regarding TikTok on state devices,” but he failed to commit to a ban.

“It could be more, could be less. I don’t know yet,” Shipley said in a text.

House Democratic Leader Don Scott (D-Portsmouth) said he was unaware of any conversations in their caucus in a Friday afternoon text. In a tweet later that evening in response to the Republican plans, Scott said, “It’s no surprise they ban tik tok, birth control, and abortion, but not NRA assault weapons. .”

Meanwhile, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee in Congress, endorsed the moves by other GOP states.

“I think it’s only appropriate that more states ban employees from having TikTok on their government-issued devices,” Warner said in a statement Friday. “TikTok is legally beholden to the Chinese Communist Party, and not only does it collect an alarming amount of user information, but it could one day be used as some kind of propaganda machine to sway the minds of Americans or spread misinformation. .”

In a recent interview with Fox News, Warner said parents should be “very concerned” about their children’s use of the app.

“I think Donald Trump was right. TikTok is a huge threat,” Warner continued.

Former President Donald Trump previously unsuccessfully tried to ban new downloads from TikTok, which President Joe Biden later replaced with another executive order ordering “evidence-based” analysis of apps like TikTok.

In an interview on Friday, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va) said he shares security concerns about TikTok, but he still thinks Trump’s order went too far.

“I don’t know if we should ban it for private citizens. I think we need to warn private citizens of the risks,” Kaine said. “I don’t have TikTok on any of my devices because I think the possibility of the company taking everyone’s personal data and using it for the wrong reasons is so high.”

Kaine would not speak directly to potential state-level action, but he said President Biden should go further by banning TikTok from federal government devices.

“The administration could do it by executive order and I’m sure they are considering doing it,” Kaine said.

TikTok did not respond to a request for comment on Friday, but the app previously defended its intention to protect US data in a letter to members of Congress.

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