TikTok will be banned from all Mississippi-issued government devices and the state’s network, Governor Tate Reeves announced in a letter to department and agency heads on Wednesday.
The Republican said he issued the directive to protect sensitive information from the popular social media app, which is owned by private Chinese company ByteDance Ltd. or misinformation.
Reeves raised concerns about “extensive tracking of user data and the potential access and transfer of that data to the Chinese government.”
“It’s no secret that the Chinese Communist Party is actively trying to steal American intellectual property and personal information from Americans,” Reeves said in a press release. “Mississippi is not going to sit around waiting for the Chinese Communist Party to steal our state government data.”
TikTok said it prioritizes the privacy and safety of its community and is working to address security concerns raised by the United States.
Similar moves to ban TikTok on government devices have been taken by senior officials in about a third of US states, many of them Republicans. On January 6, the Democratic Governor of Wisconsin announced plans to ban the use of TikTok on payphones. The Democratic governor of Kansas also issued a ban.
Congress recently banned TikTok from most US government-issued devices due to bipartisan security concerns.
Reeves’ directive would require state agencies to ensure that no state employee downloads or uses TikTok or other software applications developed by ByteDance on state-issued devices. He also ordered the Mississippi Department of Information Technology Services to block access to TikTok from the state network.
Mississippi state employees have been instructed to delete, remove, and uninstall all relevant apps from state-issued devices by January 31.
Michael Goldberg is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.