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Minnesota government assesses social media security amid state TikTok bans, Walz says

Multiple states, including the Dakotas, have already banned the app from state-issued devices.

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Multiple states have banned the social media app TikTok from their devices amid security concerns.
Photo by Pixabay
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ST. PAUL — Minnesota’s government is still weighing the best path forward with the social media app TikTok and other platforms after multiple states moved to ban the app from their devices amid potential national security concerns.

Multiple states with Republican governors, including North Dakota and South Dakota, have already banned the app from state-issued devices after the FBI told members of Congress that the Chinese government might be able to gain access to devices or gather data.

TikTok is run by the Chinese parent company ByteDance and has come under increasing scrutiny in the U.S. for its potential cybersecurity risk and ability to influence users.

Asked Monday if he had planned to ban TikTok from Minnesota-issued devices, Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, told reporters he had directed his administration to assess the issue.

“Our whole team I think is looking at social media holistically. The issue around Twitter and kind of the message that’s now there that can be somewhat dangerous. And then the issue of TikTok, of course, with the connections to the Chinese government,” the governor said. “I've asked our team to start thinking about that, put together some recommendations around that. I think this is an ever-evolving area.”

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced Tuesday his administration was banning TikTok on state-owned devices issued by agencies in the executive branch. The announcement came soon after a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers introduced legislation to ban the app in the U.S.

“Protecting citizens’ data is our top priority, and our IT professionals have determined, in consultation with federal officials, that TikTok raises multiple flags in terms of the amount of data it collects and how that data may be shared with and used by the Chinese government,” Burgum said in a Tuesday news release.

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South Dakota banned the app Nov. 29. Gov. Kristi Noem said in a news release announcing the change that her state would have "no part in the intelligence-gathering operations of nations who hate us."

"The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform,” the release said.

TikTok is an immensely popular app launched in 2016 that serves user-submitted short-form videos. It has an estimated 1 billion active users worldwide, 80-some million of whom are in the U.S.

Alabama, Iowa, Maryland, Utah and Texas have also banned the app from state devices.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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