Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin bans TikTok, WeChat on state devices
RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin is following in the footsteps of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan and banning TikTok for some government officials.
In addition to TikTok, the Executive Order Youngkin issued Friday also prohibits WeChat — and any other apps developed by ByteDance Limited or Tencent Holdings — on Virginia government devices and state-run wireless networks.
The ban is only for people who work under the Commonwealth's executive branch.
"TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American," Governor Youngkin said in a statement. "We are taking this step today to secure state government devices and wireless networks from the threat of infiltration and ensure that we safeguard the data and cybersecurity of state government."
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"Not only does TikTok pose a threat to national security and consumer privacy, but studies have shown that it negatively impacts the mental health of our youth," Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said in the statement. "In March, I joined a bipartisan coalition of 43 other attorneys general to investigate TikTok’s physical and mental impact on children. As this investigation continues, I am glad that Governor Youngkin is addressing the serious security risks TikTok poses for the Commonwealth."
Virginia democratic Senator Mark Warner, who is the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on the ban:
"As a former governor and Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m glad to see that Virginia has banned TikTok on government devices. TikTok has the stamp of approval of the Chinese Communist Party and it poses a serious national security threat due to its data collection practices and its ability to reach and manipulate Americans. I hope to see more states take action to keep our government technology out of the CCP’s reach."
Earlier this month, Governor Hogan issued an emergency directive to prohibit the use of TikTok for the executive branch of the state government as well. At the time, Hogan said, "There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives."
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Hogan's office said the applications 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.
Hogan and Youngkin are among a growing list of governors — including South Dakota's, Georgia's and Iowa's — who have recently taken action to ban TikTok on state-issued devices. On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to do the same for U.S. government devices. It still must pass through the U.S. House before Biden can sign the legislation into law.