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Politics

Gov. Larry Hogan bans TikTok use in Maryland state government, citing potential cybersecurity risks

Maryland’s executive agencies will be barred from using the popular social media platform TikTok and other “Chinese and Russian-influenced products and platforms” because of cybersecurity risks, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday.

Hogan, a two-term Republican who will leave office next month, issued the emergency cybersecurity directive after governors in other states made similar moves and FBI director Chris Wray reiterated concerns about the app being a national security threat.

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“There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives,” Hogan said in a statement. “As the cyber capital of America, Maryland has taken bold and decisive actions to prepare for and address cybersecurity threats. To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us.”

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, and Republicans have targeted it in recent years over concerns that the Chinese government can access user data.

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Hogan’s directive also prohibits the use of Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Tencent Holdings — which includes products such as Tencent QQ, QQ Wallet and WeChat — and Alibaba products, which includes AliPay and Kaspersky.

It was not immediately clear whether the governor or the executive branch agencies under his domain currently use TikTok or any of the other products.

The order cites a “reasonable belief” of risks associated with the products such as cyber-espionage, government surveillance, “inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information” and “algorithmic modification to conduct disinformation or misinformation campaigns.”

Maryland Gov.-elect Wes Moore, a Democrat, declined to comment through a spokesperson on Hogan’s directive.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, both Republicans, also issued orders in the last week to ban TikTok from state government devices. Hogan is raising money for a possible presidential run.


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