LANSING, Mich. — Legislation introduced by Sen. Lana Theis would ban TikTok, a popular video sharing app with deep ties to the Chinese Communist government, from installation and use on all state-issued devices.
“TikTok is state-sponsored spyware,” said Theis, R-Brighton. “While some may find it fun, or even as a way to gain notoriety, the fact is, unbeknownst to most users, TikTok harvests sensitive information and transmits it back to the Chinese Communist Party. This is a huge security risk to say the least, and there is no rational reason why any employee of the state of Michigan should be using TikTok on taxpayer-funded, government-issued devices.”
TikTok is developed by the Chinese software company ByteDance, which purportedly employs members of the Chinese Communist Party and operates a subsidiary that is partially owned by the party.
TikTok mines user devices for data, including their location, contacts, internet activity, and more — data which must be made available to Chinese officials by law. In addition to being a security risk, TikTok is also susceptible to government-sponsored influencing. The FBI recently warned of the Chinese government’s ability to modify the app’s content algorithm and influence U.S. audiences.
Theis also wanted citizens, and particularly parents, to be aware of how devious TikTok can be for users, especially young adults and children. A recent Pew Research Center survey indicated that about 70% of U.S. teens between 13 and 17 use TikTok, while 1 in 6 say they use it “almost constantly.”
“TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party and presents multiple threats on multiple fronts — from state and national security to free speech and mental health,” Theis said. “We must join in the bipartisan effort sweeping the country and protect Michigan from these threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party and its nefarious actors.”
Should Theis’ bill become law, Michigan would join 15 other states and the U.S. Congress in approving measures to ban TikTok from government-issued devices.