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North Dakota Gov. Burgum bans TikTok from state phones

The Republican governor cited security concerns tied to the Chinese company that owns TikTok.

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum delivers the State of the State address at the Chester Fritz Auditorium in Grand Forks in January 2020.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced Tuesday, Dec. 13, an order banning popular video-sharing app TikTok from state-owned devices issued by agencies within the executive branch.

The Republican governor cited security concerns tied to the Chinese company that runs TikTok. The FBI alleged last month that the Chinese government may be able to use the app to influence users or control their devices.

Burgum's order came hours after a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, unveiled legislation that would ban TikTok from operating in the U.S.

“Protecting citizens’ data is our top priority, and our IT professionals have determined, in consultation with federal officials, that TikTok raises multiple flags in terms of the amount of data it collects and how that data may be shared with and used by the Chinese government,” Burgum said in a news release.

The North Dakota Information Technology Department (NDIT) will create controls to enforce the ban.

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“Reducing this security risk is the right thing to do, and we would offer NDIT’s support to assist and advise any partner entities that wish to pursue similar measures," Burgum added.

FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional committee last month that the agency has concerns about TikTok, including "the possibility that the Chinese government could use it to control data collection on millions of users."

The global popularity of TikTok, known as Douyin in China, has rocketed upward since the app's launch in 2016. The app known for featuring dance trends is believed to have over a billion users worldwide, including about 100 million in the U.S.

A handful of other states have also banned TikTok on state-owned devices, including South Dakota, Alabama, Utah, Maryland and Texas.

Jeremy Turley is a Bismarck-based reporter for Forum News Service, which provides news coverage to publications owned by Forum Communications Company.
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