The app has been known to mine U.S. users’ data for the Chinese government.
The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously banned the app TikTok from county-owned devices this month, citing privacy issues and security risks.
The motion was brought forward by Vice Chair Andrew Do and Sheriff Don Barnes.
The motion “Directs County Executive Office and the OC Information Technology to amend County Information Technology Policy and Social Media Use Policy to prohibit downloading, viewing, and/or use of TikTok, a short form video hosting service, on county devices or equipment except as necessary for law enforcement purposes.”
Chairman Donald Wagner who read the motion in the absence of Do said, ”Placing restrictions on TikTok, on government owned devices will mitigate the high-security risk associated with the app and ensure the protection of our constituents' private data.”
Do’s decision to bring the motion came noting that a ban was already in place by the U.S. Army since December 2019 following Pentagon guidance and following a similar ban by the U.S. Navy.
Last year, TikTok parent company ByteDance paid a $92 million dollar settlement over allegations that the video-sharing app harvested the personal data of 89 million U.S. users and sold it to advertisers violating state and federal law.
TikTok confirmed that its China-based employees can access U.S. user data, according to Chairman Wagner, and collects data regardless of whether the user chooses to save or upload content.
Last December, Forbes reported that TikTok tracked employees by gaining access to their IP addresses and user data in a “covert surveillance campaign” called Project Raven. The surveillance targeted three journalists allowing TikTok engineers in the People’s Republic of China to mine the private data of the individuals.
“This action is necessary to protect our county IT devices from the threat to national security that TikTok poses. I also encourage the public, particularly parents, to consider the potential for compromised data and negative influence on users and take action to secure your personal devices,” Sheriff Don Barnes said in a released statement.
TikTok has 113 million users in the United States.