White House: Agencies Have 30 Days to Erase TikTok from Federal Devices

WASHINGTON – The White House has given all federal agencies 30 days to delete TikTok from all government devices, as the Chinese-owned social media app comes under increased scrutiny in Washington over security concerns.

The Office of Management and Budget called the guidance, released Monday, a “critical step forward in addressing the risks the app presents to sensitive government data.” Some agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and State, have restrictions in place; The directive calls on the rest of the federal government to follow suit within 30 days.

The White House no longer allows TikTok on its devices.

Read more: Why the FBI is Concerned About TikTok

“The Biden-Harris Administration has invested heavily in protecting our nation’s digital infrastructure and preventing foreign adversaries from accessing Americans’ data,” said Chris DeRusha, the federal chief information security officer. “This guidance is part of the Administration’s ongoing commitment to securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the security and privacy of Americans.”

The guidance was first reported by Reuters.

Congress passed the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” in December as part of a sweeping government funding package. Legislation allows the use of TikTok in certain cases, including for national security, law enforcement and research purposes.

TikTok spokeswoman Brooke Oberwetter said on Monday: “TikTok’s ban on federal devices was passed in December without any discussion, and unfortunately that approach serves as a blueprint for other governments in world. These restrictions are more than political theater.

Read more: Universities have banned TikTok from their campuses. Here’s Why

House Republicans are expected to move forward on Tuesday with a bill that would give Biden the power to ban TikTok nationwide. The legislation, proposed by Rep. Mike McCaul, looking to avoid challenges the administration will face in court if it continues with sanctions against the social media company.

If passed, the proposal would allow the administration to ban not just TikTok but any software application that threatens national security. McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, has been a vocal critic of the app, saying it is being used by the Chinese Communist Party to “manipulate and monitor its users while it consumes the data of Americans.” to be used for their evil work.” activities.”

“Anyone who has TikTok downloaded on their device is giving the CCP a backdoor to all their personal information. It’s a spy balloon on your phone,” the Texas Republican said in a statement on Monday.

Sen. Bob Menendez, DN.J., his counterpart in the Senate, did not shut down the idea of ​​the chamber making a proposal that would give Biden the power to act against TikTok, saying it was “certainly something to consider.”

Oberwetter said: “We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government devices, Congress will explore solutions that don’t have the effect of censoring millions of voices. million Americans.”

TikTok, owned by ByteDance Ltd., remains hugely popular and is used by two-thirds of U.S. teenagers. app.

The company rejected the ban for federal devices and noted that it is developing security and data privacy plans as part of the Biden administration’s ongoing national security review.

Canada also announced on Monday that it is banning TikTok from all government-issued mobile devices. The executive branch of the European Union said last week that TikTok was temporarily banned from phones used by employees as a cybersecurity measure.

Associated Press writer Farnoush Amiri contributed to this report.

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