Virginia Governor Orders State Government to Ban TikTok and WeChat | Apps | Yang Kim

[The Epoch Times, December 17, 2022](Reported by English Epoch Times reporter Mimi Nguyen Ly/Compiled by Zhang Zhi) Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (Glenn Youngkin) issued an executive order on Friday (16th) to prohibit the use of TikTok by state government equipment and WeChat. Virginia is the latest to join more than a dozen U.S. states in the latest move.

This executive order (pdf) states: “Apps and websites such as TikTok and WeChat provide foreign governments such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) the opportunity to access information stored on mobile devices, including location services and records of browsing history.”

Yang Jin ordered that government employees and government contractors not download or use TikTok or WeChat, or any other app developed by ByteDance or Tencent. They are also not allowed to log into the TikTok or WeChat sites on any government-issued device “except for public safety purposes.”

Those who have already downloaded have until December 31 to remove, delete and uninstall such apps.

“TikTok and WeChat data are conduits to the Chinese Communist Party, and the continued operation of these platforms poses a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every American,” Yangjin said in a statement.

“We’re taking this step today to protect state government equipment and wireless networks from infiltration threats and to ensure we protect state government data and network security.”

TikTok is owned and operated by Beijing-based Chinese company ByteDance. Tencent, the owner of WeChat, is a Chinese company based in Shenzhen.

Worry about online safety and harm to children

Yangkin’s executive order says it is “increasingly important” to protect data such as health records or tax information, some of the sensitive information that is kept on state servers.

The executive order also states that the Department of Defense “has issued a directive to all military personnel to remove these applications from government-issued or owned devices.” The Department of Defense released this information as early as December 16, 2019, asking the US Armed Forces to disable TikTok on military equipment.

Most recently, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned on Dec. 2 that TikTok could pose a threat to U.S. national security, saying China has the ability to use the app to manipulate content and conduct “influence operations” and espionage.

Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines recently issued the same warning, saying parents should be concerned about their children using the app.

Earlier, US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member Brendan Carr (Brendan Carr) said in early November that the United States should completely ban TikTok, and said that it is impossible for US officials to confirm that the CCP cannot obtain TikTok user data.

Meanwhile, the state of Indiana sued TikTok in two lawsuits in early December, accusing it of falsely claiming the app was suitable for children and of illegally sending U.S. users’ data to communist China.

Virginia is the latest to join a dozen other U.S. states that have banned the use of TikTok or WeChat on state government devices.

These states include Georgia, New Hampshire, Idaho, Tennessee, Iowa, North Dakota, Utah, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Maryland, South Carolina and South Dakota. As early as August 2020, Nebraska took the lead in banning the use of TikTok on state government equipment.

Responsible editor: Lin Congwen

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