The American government’s campaign against Chinese-owned TikTok has reached new heights. After passing a law that bans TikTok on devices used by government agencies, the U.S. House of Representatives is blocking its members and their staffers from using TikTok on official devices.
In an email on Tuesday, the House Office of the Chief Administrative Officer, or CAO, told representatives and staff that TikTok was now banned on official devices, explaining that the app is considered “high risk due to a number of security issues,” Reuters reports. The CAO, a nonpartisan office in charge of House operations such as logistics and tech support, then proceeded to instruct the email recipients to delete TikTok on their official devices.
“House staff are NOT allowed to download the TikTok app on any House mobile devices,” Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor wrote in the email, according to a copy obtained by Gizmodo. “Tik Tok is NOT allowed on House mobile devices. If you have the TikTok app on your House mobile device, you will be contacted to remove it.”
In addition, downloading the app in the future will be forbidden. Any successor app or service provided by ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, is also banned.
A spokesperson for the CAO told Gizmodo on Wednesday morning that the policy does not apply to personal devices, only to official House devices.
The CAO’s email comes just days after the House passed the $US1.66 ($2) trillion government funding bill, also known as the omnibus bill, which will now head to President Joe Biden for signing. The omnibus bill included a measure to ban TikTok on devices used by executive-level agencies. After its passage, the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Democratic Sen. Zoe Lofgren of California, authorised the CAO to implement a similar policy for the House, the CAO said in its email.
The House TikTok ban is the latest example of the U.S. government’s suspicion of ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, which came under fire last week after it was revealed that four company employees had accessed the TikTok data of U.S. journalists in an attempt to find leaks.
State and federal lawmakers believe TikTok is gathering intelligence on Americans for nefarious purposes. Nineteen states have partially banned TikTok on state devices. TikTok has denied these accusations and attempted to assuage fears by guaranteeing that Americans’ user data will be stored on Oracle servers in the United States.
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