(Reuters) – The governors of Wisconsin and North Carolina on Thursday signed orders banning TikTok from state entities due to cybersecurity concerns, joining other states and the federal government in banning use of the popular video app.
In addition to banning Chinese-owned TikTok from state entities, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he is banning suppliers, products and services from other Chinese companies including Huawei Technologies, Hikvision, Tencent Holdings — the owner of WeChat, ZTE Corp. such as Russian-based Kaspersky Lab.
“In the digital age, defending our state’s technology and cybersecurity infrastructure and protecting digital privacy must be a top priority for us as a state,”; Governor Evers said.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an order directing officials within 14 days to develop a policy banning the use of TikTok, WeChat and “potentially other applications” that pose cybersecurity risks at government entities.
More than 20 other states have also banned TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech conglomerate ByteDance, from state entities, including Ohio, New Jersey and Arkansas earlier this week.
TikTok said it was “disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to promote cybersecurity in their states and are based on unsubstantiated falsehoods about TikTok.”
The Democratic governors of Wisconsin and North Carolina joined mostly Republican governors who have led the charge to ban TikTok from state entities.
Calls to ban TikTok from government entities gained momentum after US FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November that it posed national security risks.
Wray flagged the threat that the Chinese government could exploit the app to influence users or control their devices.
For three years, TikTok – which has more than 100 million users – has tried to assure Washington that personal data of US citizens cannot be accessed and that its content cannot be manipulated by the Chinese Communist Party or any other entity under Beijing’s influence.
Last month, President Joe Biden signed a government funding bill that included a ban on federal employees using or downloading TikTok on government devices.
The law gives the White House Office of Management and Budget 60 days “to develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal” of TikTok from federal entities. OMB declined to comment Thursday.