Texas and Indiana join the list of US states bucking the TikTok App off government devices.
Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas ordered a ban on the TikTok app from all government devices. It stated the app harvests large amounts of data from its users’ devices. The move comes into action to protect sensitive information and critical infrastructure from TikTok. Offering a trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government.
While the Indiana attorney general AG Todd Rokita in a statement said, “The TikTok app is a malicious and menacing threat unleashed on unsuspecting Indiana consumers by a Chinese company that knows full well the harms it inflicts on users. With this pair of lawsuits, we hope to force TikTok to stop its false, deceptive, and misleading practices, which violate Indiana law.”
He added, “At the very least, the company owes consumers the truth about the age-appropriateness of its content and the insecurity of the data it collects on users.”
The lawsuit alleges that TikTok lured children into a digital world of sex, drugs, profanity, and other shocking content by claiming it’s “infrequent” and “mild.”
While the second acquisition claims that TikTok shares sensitive, personal data – and it’s backed up by FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Indiana AG’s office in the lawsuit mentioned, “The Chinese Government and Communist Party have a demonstrated interest in the kind of data that TikTok collects on its users, which they can use to spy on, blackmail, and coerce those users, or to further develop China’s artificial intelligence capabilities, or for any number of other purposes that serve China’s national security and economic interests, at the expense of Indiana consumers.” TikTok has been referred to as a”wolf in sheep’s clothing” in the filing and acts were done with the intent to defraud or mislead.
Earlier in March 2022, 8 states announced an investigation into whether the TikTok algorithm sends youth into a harmful and addictive rabbit hole, claiming it to be harmful to children.
TikTok has been labeled as “a Chinese Trojan Horse” that promotes inappropriate content, regardless of age, to registered users claiming to be 13 and older. Additionally, it also alleges such content does indeed influence teen behavior and cites increased vandalism in schools associated with TikTok hashtags and challenges as proof.
TikTok’s Chinese alternative, Douyin, provides many more safety precautions – including real-name authentications, live broadcast bans on minors, and age restrictions on how long and when minors can access the app. Chinese users under the age of 14 are limited to 40 minutes of daily use, between 0600 and 2200. US-based TikTok has no limit and its users spend an average of 99 minutes a day on it.
Others who have sought or imposed similar bans on TikTok include the US states of South Dakota, South Carolina, Nebraska, and Maryland. Others to join the list include the US Military, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
ByteDance in a media statement said it believes in “the safety, privacy, and security of [TikTok’s] community” and its “top priority.”
It further added, “We build youth well-being into our policies, limit features by age, empower parents with tools and resources, and continue to invest in new ways to enjoy content based on age-appropriateness or family comfort. We are also confident that we’re on a path in our negotiations with the U.S. Government to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns, and we have already made significant strides toward implementing those solutions.”