LANSING, Mich. (Michigan News Source) – Members of both Michigan’s House and Senate have revealed legislation that would prohibit government employees from keeping the social media app, TikTok, on their state devices.
Last week, Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton) introduced Senate Bill 15 which was also sponsored by Senators Joseph Bellino Jr. (R-Monroe0, Roger Victory (R-Georgetown Township), and Dan Lauwers (R-Brockway) which aims to amend 1973 PA 196, and “A public officer or employee shall not use TikTok on an electronic device that is owned, managed, or controlled by the public officer’s or employee’s employer. As used in this subsection, “TikTok” means the short-form video hosting service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance.”
“It’s basically government state-sponsored spyware,” Theis said in a phone interview with The Center Square. “When other countries are looking to delve into your private information in that way, it certainly shouldn’t be done on taxpayer-funded devices.”
In the House, Representative Donni Steele (R-Orion Township) has announced plans to introduce House Bill 4021 later this week which would also prohibit the app from being installed on state government-issued devices such as cell phones.
“TikTok represents a clear and present danger to our government’s security and vital interests,” Steele said in a statement. “I’m proud to sponsor proactive measures such as this legislation to ensure our state is protected against foreign influences.”
The company that created TikTok, ByteDance, reportedly has members of the Chinese Communist Party as employees, who by law must report whatever the government asks of them.
“TikTok is a state and national security threat that should be banned on all government devices across our country, not just in Michigan,” Steele said in a statement. “Michigan residents, and especially young people, should also be aware of the inherent privacy concerns regarding the use of TikTok.”
These pieces of proposed legislation come after U.S. Representatives, led by Reps. Tim Walberg (MI-5) and Rep. Bill Huizinga (MI-4) asked Governor Whitmer to seriously consider banning the app for government employees and get rid of her own account in a letter in late December.
“As part of this directive, we urge you to explore additional actions that would prohibit the use of TikTok on the personal devices of employees of the state. Indeed, we hope you will act on our request by deleting the TikTok account associated with you and the office of the Governor, BigGretchWhitmer,” the letter also stated in reference to her TikTok handle.
There are currently more than 15 states that have decided to ban it for state officials. Governor Whitmer’s account with more than 192 thousand followers is still active despite calls to remove it. She has gained nearly 10,000 more followers since the beginning of January when the FBI declared TikTok a national security threat and President Joe Biden signed a $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that banned Tiktok on electronic devices managed by the U.S. House of Representatives.