States are turning to the FBI for guidance over TikTok. However, the FBI has offered no additional evidence. States are bringing in new bans on the use of TikTok on government devices and networks.
When Maryland adopted a ban last month, cybersecurity officials in the state of Connecticut turned to the FBI for guidance.
They wanted to know if the FBI had additional information to support a ban in their state amid dire warnings by the law enforcement agency’s leadership and Republican governors that the Chinese-owned app posed serious threats to privacy and national security.
But the FBI had no additional information.
Connecticut opted not to ban the Chinese-owned app after consulting with the FBI.
Maryland and other states that had announced TikTok bans appeared to have “based their decisions on news reports and other open source information about China in general, not specific to Tik Tok,” an FBI agent quoted his analyst as saying.
It comes as a new law that bans TikTok from government employees’ work devices is kicking in soon.
The TikTok ban, which Congress passed last December, is supposed to be implemented by Feb. 27, but it’s not yet clear how the federal government will do so.
The No TikTok on Government Devices Act was passed as part of the year-end omnibus spending bill. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo) led the bill and is now asking for details of how it will be enforced.
Hawley and others in Congress want to ban TikTok from the U.S. entirely. The U.S. is far from passing a full-on TikTok ban, but Hawley and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado) introduced a bill this week that would prohibit transactions with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance.
How the government enforces the ban on its own devices will set a precedent for further action.
More than a dozen state governments have banned the app on government-issued devices, and universities have been banning it on their Wi-Fi networks as well.