Arizona State Representative Introduces Legislation to Prohibit TikTok from Devices Used by the State

State Representative Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) is introducing an amendment at the Wednesday House Governance Committee meeting dubbed the “No TikTok on Arizona Government Devices Act.”

“When I was sworn into office, I took an oath to defend my constituents and all Arizonans from enemies both foreign and domestic,” said Gress. “This legislation fulfills this promise as the security risks associated with the use of TikTok – an application owned and operated by the Chinese Communist Party with the capabilities of gathering crucial details about personal, private internet activity – can’t be ignored.”

The Arizona Sun Times reached out to Gress for additional comments but did not hear back before press time.

Gress’s new act comes as an amendment to House Bill (HB) 2416, which will require the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) to develop new security standards for “executive agencies, departments, and other government entities” to remove TikTok from all “information technology devices utilized for the purpose of state business and public service.” Under Arizona law, the ADOA is already required to coordinate and maintain a plan involving information technology.

Should this amendment become law, state employees or contractors could not conduct state business on a personal device if TikTok is installed. Moreover, state employees would need to sign an annual document confirming they understand the standards set forth by the ADOA. Should an employee break the standards, they will be subject to “disciplinary action,” including termination.

Moreover, the bill also touches on higher education institutions, instructing the ADOA to apply the same standards to these institutions that utilize state information technology. Students who use a state email address on their personal devices are exempt from the standards. Additionally, the ADOA would be required to annually update and publish a list of “applications, service, hardware, and software” banned from state devices for cybersecurity reasons. The amendment makes no mention of prohibiting public use of the app.

Additionally, State Representative Tim Dunn (R-Yuma), chairman of the Government Committee, shared his support for Gress’s bill.

“As public servants, we have a responsibility to do the right thing and keep our constituents safe,” said Dunn. “I’m proud to support this comprehensive, common-sense legislation being introduced by Representative Gress. Together, we will ensure the private information of all Arizonans is secure.”

According to the House majority team, one of the main motivations behind this amendment was the testimony from FBI Director Christopher Wray. In 2022, Wray warned the US House Homeland Security Committee that the Chinese government could use the app to control user data collection, control the app’s recommendations algorithm, or potentially compromise devices. According to AP News, TikTok is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, although TikTok claimed that services provided to the US are handled by TikTok Inc., a company bound by US laws.

Furthermore, Gress said that when US relations with China have become rockier due to the recent Chinese spy balloon incident, it is more important than ever to be as safe as possible with American data.

The push to boot TikTok from government devices is not exclusive to Arizona. As reported by The Tennessee Star, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed five executive orders in January banning TikTok on all state-owned or leased devices. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) also made a similar ban in his state. However, some are looking for a bigger ban than just state-owned devices. Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI-8) is seeking a complete ban on the app in America, and a version of his bill in the Senate has bipartisan support.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Matt Gress” by Matt Gress. Background Photo “TikTok” by Solen Feyissa.


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