Georgia Senator Jason Anavitarte, Chairman of the Senate Study Committee on the Creation of a Georgia Cybersecurity Force announced his intention this week to introduce legislation that will ban the social media application TikTok in the State of Georgia.
Senator Anavitarte says he will also work with Governor Brian Kemp to craft an executive order prohibiting state employees from installing TikTok on state owned devices. Senator Anavitarte represents Paulding, Polk, and Haralson counties.
“TikTok is malware produced by Communist China to spy on Americans and influence our elections. It is a national security threat that has no place in Georgia,” said Anavitarte. While TikTok isn’t operated directly by the Chinese Government, its parent company ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing and China's 2017 National Intelligence Law requires all of its citizens and businesses to assist in intelligence gathering and share any data with the Chinese government. China also has a long history of using domestic telecom companies for nefarious purposes. Huawei, ZTE, Hikvision, Hytera, and Dahua Technology make up a growing list of Chinese companies US authorities say pose an “unacceptable” risk to national security.
Senator Anavitarte says he will work closely with Governor Brian Kemp to craft an executive order similar to those enacted by Governors Kristi Noem (R-SD) and Larry Hogan (R-MD) that bans TikTok on government owned devices or personal devices used to access sensitive government systems.
“Banning TikTok via the legislative process may take some time, but Governor Kemp can have an immediate impact on our cyber security by prohibiting TikTok in executive agencies. I look forward to working with the Governor to make this happen,” said Anavitarte.
“Whether it’s making sure state and local governments don’t use TikTok, or preventing the application from being downloaded in the first place, all options must be on the table to make sure the Chinese Community Party isn’t spreading its malware in Georgia, added Anavitarte.”
Arguments for a national ban, are increasing and states are beginning to take independent action.
The U.S. military banned TikTok, following guidance from the Pentagon in 2019, from use on government phones beginning in and states are joining the crackdown. Texas Governor Greg Abbott yesterday banned TikTok on state devices, including phones, tablets, laptops, or any other device connected to the internet.
Brendan Carr, Commissioner, Federal Communications Commission recently tweeted: "Smart and strong step by Governor Abbott to protect the safety & security of Texas by banning TikTok on state devices. Gov @GregAbbott_TX is right that the government must match the actions we've taken to secure our physical infrastructure with moves that address digital threats"
India banned TikTok on June 29, 2020, over national security issues. Taiwan recently imposed a public sector ban on TikTok. Carr commended Taiwan's leadership and action in a tweet:
NEW: Taiwan has imposed a public sector ban on TikTok and other CCP-linked software and services based on a national security determination.
I commend this smart and strong leadership by my Republic of China counterparts, including @TAIWANmoda https://t.co/bGEDm7Ig2S https://t.co/ESpAE3Ye6i pic.twitter.com/v7tVveUQtm— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) December 6, 2022