By David Shepardson
(Reuters) -Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on Thursday signed an order banning TikTok on government-owned and managed devices due to cyber security concerns, joining other states and the federal government in prohibiting the use of the popular video app.
In addition to banning Chinese-owned TikTok from state devices, the Democratic governor said he is was banning vendors, products and services from nine companies, including Huawei Technologies, Hikvision, Tencent Holdings, ZTE Corporation and Kaspersky Lab.
“In the digital age, defending our state’s technology and cybersecurity infrastructure and protecting digital privacy have to be a top priority for us as a state,” Evers said.
More than 20 other states have also banned TikTok from state devices 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 advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok.”
Republican governors have led the charge to ban TikTok from state devices and some Democratic governors have been slower to do so.
Calls to ban TikTok from government devices gained steam after U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November it poses national security risks. Wray flagged the threat that the Chinese government could harness the app to influence users or control their devices.
For three years, TikTok has been seeking to assure Washington that the personal data of U.S. citizens cannot be accessed and its content cannot be manipulated by China’s Communist Party or any other entity under Beijing’s influence.
Last month, President Joe Biden signed into law a government funding bill that included a ban on federal employees from using or downloading TikTok on government-owned devices.
The law gives the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 60 days “to develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal” of TikTok from federal devices. OMB declined to comment Thursday.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Lincoln Feast.)