Indiana blocks Chinese-owned app TikTok from state-owned devices

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana has blocked Chinese-owned social media app TikTok from state-owned devices, its technology office said Thursday.

The Indiana Office of Technology “has blocked TikTok from being used in our state system and on our state devices” as of Dec. 7, office spokesman Graig Lubsen told The Journal Gazette.

The Office of Technology is “constantly testing the state system and making sure that the integrity is intact,” Lubsen said in an email to the paper.

The blocking came the same day the Indiana Attorney General sued TikTok, alleging the video-sharing platform misleads its users, especially children, about the level of inappropriate content and consumer information security .

Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a complaint that while the social video app claims it is safe for users 13 and older, the app contains “salacious and inappropriate content” available to young users. “for unlimited periods of time, day and night, in an effort to fill TikTok’s pockets with billions of dollars from U.S. consumers.”

A separate complaint from Rokita alleged that the app contains users’ sensitive and personal information, but misleads consumers into believing the information is secure.

“At the very least, the company owes consumers the truth about the age-appropriateness of its content and the insecurity of the data it collects about users,” Rokita said in a press release.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. The app has come under fire from Republicans who say the Chinese government could access user data such as browsing history and position. The US military has also banned the app on military devices.

In a company statement at the time, TikTok said its “top priority” is “the safety, privacy and security of our community.”

“We embed youth welfare into our policies, limit features based on age, give parents tools and resources, and continue to invest in new ways to enjoy content based on age-appropriateness or family comfort” , says the statement. “We are also confident that we are on track in our negotiations with the US government to fully address all reasonable US national security concerns, and have already taken significant steps toward implementing those solutions.”

The app has exploded in popularity with an almost addictive scrolling of videos, but it’s also struggled to detect ads that contain blatant misinformation about the US election, according to an October 2020 report by the nonprofit Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy team. of New York University.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on Dec. 6 banned the use of TikTok and some China- and Russia-based platforms in the state’s executive branch of government, a measure to address the cybersecurity risks posed by the platforms.

That directive followed Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Nov. 29 banning state employees and contractors from accessing TikTok on state-owned devices, citing the app’s ties to China. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, also a Republican, on Monday asked the state Department of Administration to ban TikTok from all state government devices it operates. In August 2020, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts blocked TikTok on state electronic devices.

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