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TikTok is banned on devices issued by the US House of Representatives

The U.S. House of Representatives has ordered staff to remove TikTok from all House-issued cell phones, according to an internal memo obtained by NBC news. The directive was reportedly issued by Catherine L Szpindor, the House’s chief administrator, and also prohibits the popular social media app from being downloaded on House-issued devices in the future.

The CAO’s Office of Cybersecurity believes TikTok poses a “high risk to users” due to a lack of transparency about how its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, handles customer data. “House employees are NOT allowed to download the TikTok app on House mobile devices,” the memo read. “If you have the TikTok app on your House mobile device, you will be contacted to remove it.”

Local governments in 19 states have already banned TikTok on government-issued devices

Brooke Oberwetter, a spokeswoman for TikTok, said to The Wall Street Journal that the move was a political signal rather than a practical solution to security concerns, claiming that the ban would have minimal impact because TikTok is installed on very few House-owned phones.

The directive follows several other attempts to restrict the use of TikTok in the US over fears that the Chinese government could use the app to track and spy on people in the US. TikTok has already been banned by local governments on government-owned devices in 19 states citing security concerns, and the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill Passed by Congress on Dec. 23, it includes a language ban for the app on phones issued to employees of executive branch agencies, with exceptions for law enforcement, national security, and investigative purposes.

TikTok is negotiating a deal with the Justice Department to resolve national security concerns

TikTok has long denied its handling of user data is a cause for concern, claiming that US user data is not stored in China and that information is not shared with the Chinese government. The company pledged to “meaningfully address all security concerns raised at both the federal and state levels” in a statement last week after Congress passed the spending bill.

Many congressmen are on TikTok, and while lawmakers and House staffers are now required to remove the app, this directive still doesn’t apply to the Senate. Some senators like Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently called for a nationwide ban on TikTok in the US.

TikTok has its job to do if it wants to convince the US government that the platform can be trusted. On Dec. 23, an internal investigation found that several ByteDance employees had accessed the TikTok data of American journalists, despite rather claim it has never been used to target individuals such as members of the US government or journalists.

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