Louisiana Secretary of State bans TikTok on work phones

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – State department-issued phones can’t have TikTok on them anymore. Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced the ban on Monday.

In a letter sent to Gov. John Bel Edwards, Ardoin said he believed banning the social media app will protect data and reaffirm the office’s commitment to privacy protection for Louisiana residents.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a technology company based in China.

Ardoin says that his move follows legislation that was introduced by a group of lawmakers who are trying to prohibit the use of the app in the U.S. The legislation cites the FBI’s and FCC’s concerns about TikTok being used to spy on Americans.

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry also is demanding action from Google and Apple to increase the age restriction on the social media platform by the end of the year because it’s “not safe for minors.”

Read Ardoin’s letter below:

“Dear Governor Edwards:

“I write to strongly urge you to ban the use of TikTok on all devices owned or leased by the State of Louisiana, following the lead of Governors in Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Maryland, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

“In a recent House Homeland Security Committee Hearing, Christopher Wray, Director of the FBI,
expressed concerns that the popular app TikTok, owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance, poses a threat to our national security and has the potential to manipulate content. Director Wray further claimed that the Chinese Communist Party could use the app to push influence through the app’s powerful recommendation algorithm and by collecting data that could be used for manipulation or espionage.

“A June 14, 2021 article on Time Magazine’s website, entitled “TikTok has Started Collecting Your
‘Faceprints’ and ‘Voiceprints.’ Here’s What it Could do With Them,” noted that the app’s U.S. privacy policy allows it to automatically collect users’ biometric data. The policy did not state what it intended to do with said date. The app was also forced to pay $92 million to settle a class-action lawsuit when it violated the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and the federal Video Privacy Protection Act after it harvested users’ personal data without consent and shared that data with third-parties, some of which are based in China.

“As Secretary of State, I have the serious responsibility of protecting voters’ personal identifying
information, which is why I have taken the step of banning the use of TikTok on all devices owned or leased by my agency. I wholeheartedly believe that doing so on a statewide level would protect our data and reaffirm our commitment to privacy protections for our constituents. Therefore, I urge you to issue a directive banning the use of TikTok on our state government’s devices with immediate effect.

“Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin”