Agencies have 30 days to ban TikTok from federal entities, White House says

(CNN) The White House has told federal agencies they have 30 days to remove TikTok from all government-issued devices.

Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in the guidance issued Monday that all executive agencies, and those they contract with, must delete any application from TikTok or its parent company, ByteDance, within 30 days of the notification, with few exceptions. Within 90 days, agencies must include in contracts that the short video app cannot be used on devices and must cancel any contracts that require use of the app.

The guidance memo from the Biden administration would bring the executive branch and its contractors into compliance with a bill passed late last year that requires federal agencies to drop TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. It marks the latest effort to crack down on the app amid renewed security concerns about US user data and fears it could find its way to the Chinese government.

The bill was quickly moved through Congress in December, ending up in the massive omnibus spending package at the end of the year.

Reuters first reported the guidance.

US officials have raised concerns that the Chinese government could pressure ByteDance to hand over information collected from users that could be used for intelligence or disinformation purposes. As CNN previously reported, independent security experts have said that type of access is a possibility, although no incident of such access has been reported to date.

Brooke Oberwetter, a spokesperson for TikTok, called such a ban “little more than political theater.”

“The ban on TikTok by federal entities passed in December without any deliberation, and unfortunately this approach has served as a blueprint for other world governments,” Oberwetter said in a statement, adding: “We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government entities, Congress will explore solutions that will not have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans.”

Canada announced it would also ban the app on public devices starting Tuesday, and the European Commission last week issued its own ban on the app on official devices, citing cybersecurity concerns.

Over half of all US states have also fully or partially banned TikTok on the devices of public employees, and the US House of Representatives previously announced that it had restricted the app to electronic devices managed by the chamber.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to be the only witness at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing scheduled for late March.

CNN’s Brian Fung contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *