South Dakota’s governor signed an executive order on Tuesday banning state agencies, employees and contractors from accessing TikTok on government devices, citing “the growing national security threat” posed by the Chinese-owned social media platform.
“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of nations who hate us,” Gov. Kristi Noem said in a press release. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform.”
The order goes into effect immediately.
It’s unclear if many, or any, state employees were actively using TikTok on state-owned devices. But with the move, Noem is the latest lawmaker to urge for tougher action to be taken against the popular short-form video app, potentially scoring some political points in the process.
There has been renewed criticism of TikTok this year, stemming from a Buzzfeed News report in June that said some US user data has been repeatedly accessed from China. The reporting cited leaked audio recordings of dozens of internal TikTok meetings, including one where a TikTok employee allegedly said, “Everything is seen in China.”
In a response to the report, TikTok previously said it “has consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to US user data on an as-needed basis under those strict controls.” A TikTok executive testified before a Senate panel last year that it doesn’t share information with the Chinese government and that a US-based security team decides who can access US user data from China.
“Because of our serious duty to protect the private data of South Dakota citizens, we must take this action immediately,” Noem said. “I hope other states will follow South Dakota’s lead, and Congress should take broader action, as well.”
– CNN’s Catherine Thorbecke contributed to this report.