New Jersey thinking of restricting TikTok in gov’t agencies

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New Jersey thinking of restricting TikTok in gov’t agencies

The US state of New Jersey is considering restricting government agencies’ use of TikTok to designated devices that are not used for other government business.

The move would avoid an outright ban on the Chinese-owned app for state agencies, but nonetheless be a rare example of a heavily Democratic state joining the Republican-led push to restrict the popular video-sharing platform.

Last week, Al Jazeera revealed that staunchly liberal Washington state is considering banning the use of TikTok among state agencies, which would make the state the first Democratic stronghold to ban the app over data privacy and national security concerns.

In an email to colleagues obtained by Al Jazeera, New Jersey’s top cybersecurity official said the state is considering a full ban on TikTok on government devices, but is more likely to limit the use of the app to “separate and isolated devices”.

“We are continuing to discuss the outright ban on TikTok on state devices and personal devices authorised for state business use,” Michael Geraghty, New Jersey’s chief information security officer, said on December 7 in an email to colleagues at the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

“Rather than an outright ban, we will probably provide guidance that would require agencies to use separate and isolated devices for using TikTok. We do the same for other types of access to sites and applications that represent security risks, such as the dark web.”

But Geraghty said agencies that do use TikTok are implicitly endorsing the Chinese government’s dubious activities, including influence operations on US soil.

“The decision to ban or restrict the use of a particular app or website is ultimately up to the agency making the decision, and can depend on a variety of factors, including the potential risks and benefits of using the app or website, the policies and practices of the developers, and the overall security and privacy landscape,” Geraghty said in the emails.

“Those agencies that do use TikTok have to realise that they are implicitly endorsing the Chinese regime’s collection of their and their audience’s personal info and China’s influence operations in the US.”