The Lead

Pa. Senate panel advances bill banning TikTok from state devices, networks

By: - March 6, 2023 12:31 pm
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

A Pennsylvania Senate panel has advanced legislation prohibiting government agencies from downloading and using TikTok on state devices, arguing that the social media application poses a security threat.

On Monday, the Senate Communications and Technology Committee unanimously voted to send the bill authored by Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York, to the full chamber for consideration. The proposal bans the app — and other services developed by TikTok’s Chinese parent company ByteDance — from state-owned devices and networks, including Wi-Fi.

The vote comes after a U.S. House committee, concerned that the company could collect users’ data and share it with the Chinese government, voted last week to give President Joe Biden the power to ban TikTok entirely.

“Our constituents and the people of Pennsylvania’s personal safety and our national security are threatened by cyber vulnerabilities of systems that support our daily lives,” Phillips-Hill said. “It is imperative that Pennsylvania takes bold and decisive actions to prepare for and address those cybersecurity threats.”

Nearly two dozen states — including Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Dakota, Indiana,  Wisconsin, and Florida — have acted to ban the application from government-owned devices.

In Pennsylvania, some government offices already prohibit employees from using TikTok on state-owned devices.

“This will ensure that Pennsylvania systems are protected from the cybersecurity threats caused by these rogue foreign governmental entities,” Phillips-Hill said.

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