Utah governor bans TikTok on state-owned devices. Should you delete app?

Dec 13, 2022, 7:00 AM

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The logo of TikTok is seen on a smartphone screen in New York, the United States, Aug. 30, 2020. (CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock)


SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Spencer Cox issued an order Monday banning  TikTok from all Utah government-owned devices. Anyone who uses state-owned devices cannot download, use or open TikTok under the ban.

The FBI has said user information on the app could be stolen by the Chinese government. 

The social media app TikTok is available in over 150 countries, has more than 1 billion users. It has been downloaded in excess of 210 million times in the United States alone, as reported by Wallaroo Media



Utah joins Texas, South Dakota, South Carolina and Maryland governors by banning TikTok government-issued devices.

“[U]nder China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, all businesses are required to assist China in intelligence work including data sharing. TikTok’s algorithm has already censored topics politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a letter to state officials earlier this month, according to Axios.

TikTok: Keep it or junk it?

ByteDance  is a Chinese internet technology company headquartered in Beijing and incorporated in the Cayman Islands and developed TikTok in 2016.

“We reached out for some comments and verification from the governor’s office,” Dave said, “and they sent back a pretty brief reply: “Not today.” Okay, thanks for reaching out. That was the response we got. I think this is a big deal because do they know something we don’t know?”

“Is this something we need to be kind of sounding the alarms in our own homes?” Debbie asked.

KSL cybersecurity expert Earl Foote joins KSL NewsRadio’s Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic to explain the possible dangers of the app.

“I’ve said it before. It’s not to be an alarmist. But we are at cyberwar with China,” he said, “and they are intentionally doing their best to gather as much data about us as a country and about users as they possibly can. For government, it’s a significant risk because data that is connected to potential state and national security or proprietary information could potentially be gathered by the TikTok app and then be . . . given to the Chinese government.”

Foote said TikTok also collects data on its users that have doing to do with TikTok.

“TikTok’s privacy policy allows them to gather . . . data on the device that TikTok is being used on, so any other application, any other data.” Foote said.

What changed with TikTok?

Debbie noted that Gov. Cox’s office had a TikTok account until just recently.

“Then all of a sudden, we come in this morning, and they issue this release that they’re banning TikTok. In fact, they’ve taken down governor’s office account, too. And I’m like, well, what’s different today that it was okay just a few days ago?”

Foote said the digital world is fast-moving, and it takes time for people who are not cybersecurity professionals or experts to catch up but, he said, the governor’s office is moving in the right direction.

“The governor — to his to his credit — within the last year has formed a new cybersecurity committee, and that cybersecurity committee is what is helping to steer the state’s position on cybersecurity programs,” he said.

Dave closed the discussion with the big question.

“If the state is doing it [deleting the TikTok app] right now, how many companies and private businesses are going to follow suit? And should we be doing this in our own homes?”

Related reading:

Following trend, Utah governor bans TikTok on state-owned devices

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play. 

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Utah governor bans TikTok on state-owned devices. Should you delete app?