(The Center Square) — New Jersey has become the latest state to ban the use of TikTok and other social media apps with ties to the Chinese government from state government devices and networks.
An executive order signed by Gov. Phil Murphy prohibits the use of high-risk software and services, including TikTok, on state provided or managed devices.
Murphy said the order “will ensure the cybersecurity of the state is unified against actors who may seek to divide us.”
“Bolstering cybersecurity is critical to protecting the overall safety and welfare of our state,” he said in a statement. “The proactive and preventative measures that we are implementing today will ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and safety of information assets managed by the New Jersey state government.”
The ban includes devices made by Chinese-tied electronic manufacturers such as ZTE and Huawei Technologies, which make computer monitors and flat screen TVs, as well as other social media apps such as We Chat and QQ Wallet.
Murphy’s order allows state agencies with “compelling” public interest rationale to continue using the technology by requesting an exemption from the ban.
It’s not clear if that means New Jersey’s TikTok account, which includes videos of Murphy’s speeches and public service announcements. The website has more than 56,000 followers and more than a half-million likes.
New Jersey joins about two dozen other states, which in recent months have at least partially blocked access on government computers to TikTok over concerns China might use it to track Americans and censor content.
In Congress, lawmakers have taken steps to bar federal government employees from using TikTok on government-owned devices amid national security concerns.
Lawmakers approved a key spending bill last month giving the White House’s Office of Management and Budget two months to “develop standards and guidelines” for executive agencies to remove TikTok from federal devices.
Many federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, already prohibit the use of TikTok on government-owned devices.
The changes won’t impact the more than 100 million Americans who currently use the popular social media app on private or company-owned devices.
In 2020, President Donald Trump sought to ban transactions that would have blocked TikTok’s use in the United States, but the plan was rejected by the courts.
ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, has argued that the fears are based on misinformation, and denies it gives the Chinese government access to users’ personal data.
“We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok,” spokesperson Jamal Brown said in a statement.