Michigan lawmaker wants to ban TikTok from government devices

Under a new bill introduced in the Michigan Senate, any government employee will not be allowed to have the mobile app TikTok downloaded on their phone.

Introduced by Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton), the bill requires any electronic device owned or managed by a public officer not have the social media app stored on any device. 

The Theis-sponsored bill was cosponsored by three other Republicans this week. It's since been referred to the Senate Labor Committee.

"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," Theis said in a statement. "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, which is owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance, has recently fallen in the crosshair of the federal government after Congress passed a spending bill in late 2022 that included a ban of the app from government devices. 

Considered one of the most popular social media apps in the world, it's also considered a national security concern by federal law enforcement like the FBI. Skepticism over the app and it's ties to the Chinese government are among the few issues that both parties and the White House have found common ground on.

While the company has repeatedly said data collected from the app is not stored in China, companies based in the country are required by law to hand over any information it has gathered to the government.

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Worries over the app's privacy rules underscores the tensions between two of the world's largest countries. 

So far, only the federal government has moved to ban the app from public employee's devices. The bill introduced in the Michigan legislature represents one of the first pushes from a state government to do the same.