Why Did Congress Ban TikTok From Federal Devices?

  • Guideline M: Use of Information Technology Systems

Published: January 17, 2023

The announced decision by the House of Representatives spotlights the growing social media security concern created by individuals and corporations working with, or for, the federal government. On December 23, 2022, Congress, in a bipartisan spending bill, banned TikTok from all government devices. The White House, the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department have already banned the social media app, as have more than a dozen other states. The Tik Tok decision combines national security, social media, and “China” in only one institution’s change of policy. It reflects the challenge that continued use of social media presents to those within the federal circle of trust.

The Chinese government, as well as other foreign powers, actively probe all aspects of American life for information useful in compromising the Republic’s national security interests. They are active not only in stealing the federal government’s data, but also doing the same in our private and public corporations. And no one piece of information is the exclusive goal of any intelligence operation; all types of information are useful if they can be gained.

No member of the House of Representatives will be allowed to download the TikTok app on any House-issued mobile phone. This mirrors the general practice of prudent Executive Branch leaders, supervisors, managers, and employees. Many refuse to use social media at all. It is very rare for a CIA or NSA employee to have, for instance, a Facebook account. Entering the federal circle of trust requires changes in one’s personal life.

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