Social media sensation TikTok has enthralled millions and surfaced everything from cool sandcastle videos to racist incidents. But California may become the next state to ban the platform from communication devices used by state officials, with two bills introduced yesterday that would do just that.
State Sen. Bill Dodd (D-Napa) introduced SB 74, which if passed would prohibit state officials from downloading or installing social apps on state-issued devices if a “country of concerns” owns or controls at least a 10% interest in the social app.
Another bill, from AB 227 Assemblymember Kate Sanchez (R-Murrieta), would bars state workers from installing social apps from companies based in “a country of concern”—which in TikTok’s case would mean China, where developer ByteDance is based.
Along with other state officials and agencies, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is an enthusiastic user of TikTok, most recently using the app to issue updates on the winter storms hitting the state.
If the bills are passed, California would be joining over 20 states that have enacted rules barring the controversial social platform from being installed on devices for official use after FBI Director Christopher Wray issued a warning that the app posed a security risk in November.
Federal officials contend that the Chinese Communist regime’s reputation for aggressive economic espionage and influence leveraging, and control over companies like ByteDance make TikTok a special concern.
President Biden signed a bill barring the app from federal government devices in December. The Department of Defense also issued directives against use of the app in 2020.
Attorney General Rob Bonta has been working since last March with eight other state prosecutors in a probe of TikTok and its impact on the mental health of children.
In September, Gov. Newsom signed AB2273, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, sponsored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), which bars online services from leveraging the metadata of children. NetChoice, a trade group of which TikTok is a member, is suing the state over the law.
SB 74 has already been referred to committee, so the dialogue over the issue should start soon.
Mike Ege can be reached at [email protected]