Maryland prohibits TikTok for executive branch of state government

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced that the state has issued an emergency directive to prohibit the use of TikTok for the executive branch of the state government.

The directive specifically prohibits certain Chinese and Russian-influenced products and platforms including TikTok. 

Gov. Hogan's office says these entities present an unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk to the state and may be involved in activities such as cyber-espionage, surveillance of government entities and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.

READ MORE: South Dakota governor bans TikTok for state agencies, warning of security threat

"There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives," said Gov. Hogan. "As the cyber capital of America, Maryland has taken bold and decisive actions to prepare for and address cybersecurity threats. To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us."

The directive—issued by the state’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)—applies to TikTok; Huawei Technologies; ZTE Corp; Tencent Holdings, including but not limited to: Tencent QQ, QQ Wallet, and WeChat; Alibaba products, including but not limited to: AliPay; and Kaspersky.

Under this directive, agencies must remove any of these products from state networks, implement measures to prevent the installation of these products and implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of, or access to, prohibited services. 
"This action represents a critical step in protecting Maryland State systems from the cybersecurity threats caused by foreign organizations," said State CISO Chip Stewart.

READ MORE: Stafford County Public Schools blocking students' access to TikTok

Last year, Gov. Hogan enacted a series of initiatives, including a new partnership with the National Security Agency (NSA) to have a senior-level data analyst advise Maryland, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) to establish a new Maryland Institute for Innovative Computing. 

Earlier this year, the governor announced more than $200 million in funding to modernize, strengthen and expand the state’s cyber infrastructure; launch the Maryland Cyber Range for Elevating Workforce and Education (MD-CREWE), forming a multi-state partnership with the Virginia Cyber Range; and provide universal and equitable access to Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science in every Maryland high school.