The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (MCBOS) voted unanimously Wednesday to ban the popular social media app TikTok from being used by government-owned and leased devices, citing cyber security concerns as the driving reason.
“We know social media companies gather loads of personal information on users to better customize the content they serve. And we know TikTok is not alone in doing this. But there are national security and privacy concerns when TikTok’s interests interfere with the best interests of Maricopa County’s residents,” said MCBOS Member Thomas Galvin in a statement to reporters.
According to the resolution the members voted for, the three main reasons behind the action were that TikTok is owned by the China-based technology company ByteDance, TikTok contains “security vulnerabilities” which could allow “malicious actors” to access sensitive data from people using the app, and many other government entities on the state and federal levels have already banned the app on government devices.
With the resolution approved, Maricopa County Manager Jen Pokorski has 30 days to determine the best way to remove TikTok from all county devices. The County Office of Enterprise Technology is in charge of preventing any future TikTok downloads that violate the rule and creating an annual report detailing what other applications could pose a similar threat that needs similar restrictions.
“People are free to make choices about which apps they use and assess their own risk tolerance. But public servants must be held to a higher standard,” Galvin said at the board meeting.
Not only is Maricopa the first county in Arizona to take action on banning the app, but it is the first among the largest counties in the nation to do so, as Los Angeles County in California and Harris County in Texas still utilize the app. However, the county is not the first entity to ban the app in Arizona, as Governor Katie Hobbs (D) and Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) did so in April. Mayes banned the app from use on her office’s devices, and Hobbs issued Executive Order 10, which prohibited TikTok on any state agency device, much to the enjoyment of State Representative Matt Gress (R-Phoenix).
As reported by The Arizona Sun Times, Gress is the sponsor of House Bill (HB) 2416, which, if signed into law, would require the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) to develop cybersecurity guidelines for technology used by the state. If any app, such as TikTok, violated these guidelines, it could not be used on any non-personal device operated by a state employee, contractor, or institution of higher education. State employees must also sign an annual document stating they comply with the guidelines.
On Tuesday, HB 2416 passed the Senate Floor along party lines, although several Democrats spoke against the bill, saying it was unnecessary because of Hobbs’s order and other federal mandates. The bill’s next destination is Governor Hobbs’s desk, where she will make a final decision.
The Sun Times contacted the House Majority Caucus for additional information but did not hear back before press time.
Several other states have also put effort into banning TikTok. Most recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill that outlaws the app on state government devices and two other bills to mitigate China’s influence in Florida.
Taking things a step further, the Montana Legislature passed a measure that would completely ban TikTok in the state. If the bill becomes law, it would prohibit and even penalize app stores from offering the app for download in Montana.
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