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NC lawmakers call for TikTok ban on state devices

As GOP lawmakers push for TikTok ban on state devices, Gov. Roy Cooper's office says he's "considering potential additional safety measures."

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By
Travis Fain
, WRAL state government reporter

An influential pair of North Carolina legislators called on Gov. Roy Cooper Wednesday to follow the lead of the U.S. Congress, and a number of governors around the country, in banning TikTok, a social media app owned by company based in China, from state government devices.

State reps. Jason Saine and Jon Hardister, both part of the Republican leadership in the North Carolina House, called the issue a "matter of national security" in a letter to the governor. They asked for an executive order banning the app from state devices and said they'd work "swiftly" to write such a ban into law next year if the governor doesn't act.

Cooper spokesman Jordan Monaghan said the state is "constantly updating guidance to ensure cyber security and is reviewing state government use of TikTok and considering potential additional safety measures."

TikTok's media relations office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment sent through the company's website.

TikTok is one of the world's most popular social media applications, allowing people to shoot, edit and post short videos from their cell phones. It's particularly popular with young people.

It's owned by ByteDance, which is based in Beijing, and for years government officials and privacy advocates have warned that the Chinese government may be mining data on Americans through the app. CIA Director Bill Burns told PBS NewsHour earlier this month that China's government can “insist upon extracting the private data of a lot of TikTok users in this country and also shape the content of what goes on to TikTok as well to suit the interests of the Chinese leadership.”
A $1.7 trillion spending bill that passed Congress last week, which President Joe Biden is expected to sign, includes a ban for federal devices. Republican governors in at least 15 states have done something similar, and today Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly became the first Democratic governor to take such a step, according to the Associated Press.

In their letter, Saine, R-Lincoln, and Hardister, R-Guilford, said they hope Cooper will act immediately.

"If sensitive data is breached, it could pose both an economic and a security threat for North Carolina," they wrote. "We have a responsibility to prevent this from happening."

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