House Democrats and Republicans should remove ‘high-risk’ app from official phones
Administrators of the United States House of Representatives on Tuesday sent an email asking all lawmakers and staff to uninstall TikTok from all official phones, calling the app a security risk. TikTok was banned on US government devices as part of the $1.7 trillion spending bill passed last week.
“The Cybersecurity Office has determined that the TikTok mobile app poses a high risk to users due to a number of security risks,” say it E-mail of the House Administration Committee obtained by reporters.
According to the email, staff must remove the app from any House-issued device and are prohibited from reinstalling it. The change comes after the 117th Congress concluded its work and dissolved. The 118th Congress is due to be sworn in next Tuesday.
One of the last things US lawmakers did in 2022 was pass the omnibus spending bill, which included a ban on installing TikTok on any government device.
Several lawmakers wanted to go even further and completely ban the app in the United States. Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Mike Gallagher — Republicans from Florida and Wisconsin, respectively — introduced a bill titled ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, portraying TikTok as a way for the Chinese government to spy on Americans . A company spokesperson described it as “a politically motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States.”
A week after Rubio and Gallagher proposed their ban, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, admitted that four employees had used the app to spy on two Americans, journalists from the Financial Times and BuzzFeed News. A US-based executive and a Chinese executive lost their jobs.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said he was “disappointed” in employees and that the company takes data security “incredibly serious”.
“The public trust that we have worked so hard to build is going to be significantly undermined by the misconduct of a few individuals,” ByteDance CEO Liang Rubo said in an internal email.
TikTok is the international version of Douyin, a Chinese social media platform that allows users to upload short videos. Both have the same user interface but no access to each other’s content. ByteDance says TikTok has more than 1.5 billion accounts, of which at least a billion are monthly active users.
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