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The Capitol’s administrative leadership banned TikTok from all mobile devices administered by the agency this week, days before the federal government joins a growing number of states in banning employees from having the app on their official phones.
Several media outlets reported that Catherine Szpindor, head of the office responsible for providing administrative, technical and operational assistance to members, officers and staff of Congress, sent a memo to all lawmakers and administrative staff last Tuesday saying that the app is considered “high risk. ” due to multiple security concerns.
Among other things, the memo stated that congressional staff may NOT download the TikTok app on any official mobile device and that if it was already downloaded, the person was to be contacted directly to remove it, according to NBC.
The ban on the app on all federally issued devices will go into effect after President Biden signs the $1.7 trillion overall government funding package passed a few days ago in the U.S. Congress.
Included in the package is a bill to issue the ban after the Senate passed it unanimously and outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated she supported it.
TikTok is owned by China-based ByteDance. Since 2020, some lawmakers and officials, including former President Donald Trump, have expressed concern about the app’s security measures and the potential risk involved in sharing data with the Chinese government. Trump even went so far as to say publicly that he would push for an executive order to ban it nationwide.
Two weeks ago, Forbes published an exclusive report indicating that ByteDance had indeed confirmed that it “used TikTok to monitor the physical location of journalists using their IP addresses,” as the media outlet had first warned in October.
An internal investigation by ByteDance itself found that employees tracked several journalists covering activity on the TikTok platform, improperly gaining access to their IP addresses and user data in an attempt to identify whether they had been to the same locations as them.
According to materials reviewed by Forbes, ByteDance tracked down several Forbes journalists as part of this covert surveillance campaign, designed to uncover the source of leaks within the company following a series of stories exposing the company’s ongoing ties to the Chinese government.
As a result of the investigation into the illicit surveillance tactics, ByteDance fired Chris Lepitak, its chief internal auditor, who led the team responsible for them. China-based executive Song Ye, to whom Lepitak reported and who reports directly to ByteDance CEO Rubo Liang, also resigned in the wake of the scandal.
Independent Writer. Marketing and communications strategist for politicians, artists, public figures & corporate brands for more than 10 years. Contact: @alejandrosbasso (Twitter)
Escritor independiente. Consultor en marketing y comunicaciones de políticos, artistas, figuras públicas y marcas por más de 10 años. Contacto: @alejandrosbasso (Twitter)