Government Agencies Directed to Remove TikTok App From all Devices

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On Monday, the White House mandated that all government devices and systems must delete the Chinese-owned TikTok app within 30 days to protect U.S. data.

On Twitter, the Biden administration declared that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has placed a high emphasis on advancing our nation’s cybersecurity.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has announced guidance for the implementation of the ‘No TikTok on Government Devices Act,’ which requires government agencies to stop using the app except in certain situations.

Shalanda Young, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, mandated that all federal agencies must block web traffic from a Chinese-owned firm as part of a purge, by issuing a directive.

A memo issued by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has mandated that within 90 days, agencies must address any use of TikTok by IT vendors in their contracts. Additionally, within 120 days, a ban on TikTok must be included in all new solicitations.

No blanket exemptions will be allowed for any agencies, despite some uses of the app on government devices possibly being allowed for national security, law enforcement, or security research activities, as stated in the memo.

The memo states that agency leaders must give their approval for such activities.

Chinese Spy App

China’s laws mandate that all firms operating within its borders must surrender any data they collect to the Chinese communist government. This includes information gathered by Byte Dance, the parent company of popular social media app TikTok.

Because of this, numerous political figures and security specialists have voiced their concerns that TikTok may be used as a means of Chinese espionage.

Recently, concerns regarding national security regarding China have grown significantly following the discovery of a Chinese spy balloon hovering over the United States. After several days, the balloon was eventually brought down; however, not before it had passed over certain military sites that are deemed sensitive.

In response to growing cybersecurity concerns, the Biden administration has taken action by initiating the TikTok purge. Chris DeRusha, Federal Chief Information Security Officer, has stated that these actions are part of their commitment to protecting the security and privacy of the American people. Reuters reported his remarks.

In December, Congress passed a bipartisan ban on federal employees using TikTok on government-owned devices. This gave the White House 60 days to issue agency directives, which it has now done in accordance with the legislation.

The ban does not affect the immense population of over 100 million Americans who use TikTok on their own or work-related devices.

Last week, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, proposed legislation (pdf) that would grant President Joe Biden the power to prohibit TikTok from being used on any device in the United States.

Congressman McCaul’s bill enables the government to block TikTok or any other applications that jeopardize America’s security. According to McCaul, anyone who has TikTok installed on their device is essentially giving the Chinese Communist Party access to all of their personal data. It is, essentially, a surveillance device for their phone.

On Tuesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will review the bill, as reported by Punchbowl’s John Bresnahan.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Rep. McCaul’s office for more information.

Bans in Multiple Countries

Canada announced a ban earlier on Monday, joining India, Taiwan, the European Union, and several U.S. states who have already ordered similar bans.

Mona Fortier, President of the Canadian Treasury Board, announced on Monday that the nation would be forbidding the use of TikTok on all government-owned gadgets by February 28th, due to worries that the app’s data collecting could expose users to cyber threats.

Fortier stated that government-issued devices would not be allowed to download the application in the future.

Catherine Luelo, Canada’s Chief Information Officer, conducted a review of TikTok and found that it posed an “unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security,” thus leading to Canada’s ban.

The Treasury Board stated that the decision to remove and block TikTok from government mobile devices is being taken as a precaution, particularly due to worries about the legal regime that governs the information collected from these devices, and this aligns with the approach of our international partners.

TikTok’s data collection methods on a mobile device offer considerable access to the phone’s contents.

On Feb. 25, the European Union prohibited the use of TikTok on European Commission corporate and personal devices due to the same apprehensions that had been expressed by the United States and other countries.

The Corporate Management Board of the European Commission has taken the decision to suspend the use of the TikTok application on corporate devices and personal devices enrolled in the Commission’s mobile device service in order to strengthen its cybersecurity. This was announced in a statement.

The Commission hopes that this measure will shield them from potential cybersecurity threats and prevent cyber-attacks on their corporate environment, it noted.

TikTok was contacted by The Epoch Times for comment.