Arkansas joins list of states to ban TikTok on state-owned devices

It's the latest action by states amid fears that China could us the app to spy on Americans.
(Flyer photo/Todd Gill)

Arkansas is now part of a growing list of states that have banned the use of the popular social media app TikTok on state-owned devices and networks over concerns that the Chinese government could use data from the app to track Americans.

In a tweet on Friday, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said TikTok’s data collection practices create a national security risk.

Hutchinson said he directed Arkansas Division of Information Systems Director Jonathan Askins to inform state employees that TikTok is now prohibited on state-owned and issued devices as well as devices connected to the state network unless it’s for an authorized law enforcement or security purpose.

“On December 2, 2022, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned citizens about usage of TikTok,” Askins said in a Dec. 8 memo to state employees. “TikTok’s privacy and data collection policies allow for the capture of sensitive, personally identifiable information and that data is stored in locations that could be accessed by the government of the People’s Republic of China for use other than the permissions given by the user.”

TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd, allows users to upload short-form videos to share with other users. The clips typically include dances, jokes, pranks, stunts and tricks.

As of Dec. 20, there were 19 states that had banned or partially blocked access to TikTok on government devices. While Florida and Nebraska first announced bans in 2020, most states have blocked the app in recent weeks. Agencies in Louisiana and West Virginia on Monday announced their states’ respective TikTok bans.

The U.S. Senate last week approved a bill that bans federal employees from downloading TikTok on work devices. The measure now heads to the U.S. House for approval.