Quick Takes

TikTok banned from Kentucky government devices and networks

By: - March 23, 2023 6:52 pm

(Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear signed legislation Wednesday codifying recent bans on social media website TikTok from state government-owned devices and networks into law. 

Senate Bill 20 received bipartisan support in the Senate and House this legislative session. 

While presenting the bill in past debates, primary sponsor Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, has cited when presenting the bill concerns from the FBI about national security risks posed by TikTok and its capacity to influence users or their devices. The social media site and popular mobile app allows users to share minutes-long videos. It’s owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance

“Most Chinese companies are connected, directed or partially owned by the Chinese government,” Mills said on the Senate floor earlier this legislative session. “It has been reported on multiple news sources and confirmed that TikTok mines huge amounts of private data which the Chinese government, a foreign adversary of the United States, would have access to.”

Under the new law, which took effect immediately, the Commonwealth Office of Technology and the legislative branch must  implement controls to block the site on state-issued devices and networks. The judicial branch may also implement a ban or restrictions. 

Earlier this year, executive branch employees were barred from downloading or using TikTok or other sites owned by ByteDance on state-issued devices. The Legislative Research Committee also banned the use of TikTok on LRC-issued devices on Jan. 20. 

On Thursday, TikTok Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew testified before members of the U.S. House amid national security concerns over the use of TikTok and potential Chinese government influence on the platform. The Wall Street Journal reported he said the company was committed to firewalling data from U.S. users from “all unwanted foreign access” and would keep content “free from any manipulation from any government.”

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McKenna Horsley
McKenna Horsley

McKenna Horsley covers state politics for the Kentucky Lantern. She previously worked for newspapers in Huntington, West Virginia, and Frankfort, Kentucky. She is from northeastern Kentucky.