(Buffalo, NY) – State Senator Chris Jacobs has introduced legislation (S8600) that would enhance data security on all state issued devices by banning the downloading and use of a controversial social media application with ties to the Chinese communist government. The application goes by the name of TikTok in North America, and since 2016 it has become one of the fastest growing social media platforms in history.
“On the surface TikTok appears to be a harmless tool for creating short videos with music when in reality it is a data mining instrument that violates our privacy and could threaten our security,” said Jacobs. “It is just too easy for the information it collects to be accessed by the oppressive Chinese government waging a fierce economic war against our state and our country.”
Data collected by TikTok includes the user’s IP address, location, browsing and search history, phone applications and file systems. It even records individual keystrokes entered by the user. It is so thorough in its collection of information that it has come under the scrutiny of the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the State Department and the Transportation Security Administration, all of whom now ban their employees and service members from using the app on government issued devices.
“As American citizens and New York State residents, we cannot help but be concerned by the ongoing threats to our privacy, civil liberties and security, regardless of whether they occur at home through government led contact tracing or abroad through clandestine data mining by foreign antagonists,” said Jacobs.
Suspicion over the use of TikTok was initially raised by the fact that its parent company, ByteDance, is located in Beijing where companies are obligated to work with the People’s Republic of China in intelligence collection efforts. Several of the company’s board members are also members of the Chinese Communist Party. The company has refused requests to testify before Congress, and recent occurrences of censorship of content by users in the United States has only heightened concerns.
“This legislation is a very reasonable response to the unnecessary collection of so much data and the history of distrust that has been created by this company and its ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” said Jacobs. “The importance of protecting our privacy and maintaining our security dictates we take swift and effective action to limit TikTok’s reach into our public and private domains,” the Senator concluded.