Bill to ban TikTok on state-owned devices clears state Senate

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

KENTUCKY TODAY

Legislation banning the use of the TikTok app on all state-owned computers, cellphones, tablets and other devices that can be connected to the Internet won unanimous approval in the Senate on Friday.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 20, Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, presented it on the Senate floor, and opened his remarks by saying, “We’re not going to talk about a gigantic balloon that floated across our country, but we are going to address another security concern connected to the Chinese government: TikTok.”

He told the Senate that while TikTok is owned by the Chinese company Byte Dance, “most Chinese companies are connected, directed or partially owned by the Chinese government. It’s been reported by multiple news sources that TikTok mines huge amounts of private data, which the Chinese government, a foreign adversary of the United States, would have access to.”

Mills noted that U.S. Government agencies have expressed concerns over the app for security reasons, including the FBI and Federal Communications Commission, with the FCC asking Apple and Android app stores to stop distributing the app due to its data mining ability.

“We need to protect the data that exists on state government devices,” Mills stated. “One very practical way of doing this is to remove a known data mining app from all of the state of Kentucky’s digital devices and computers, and this bill does that.”

Gov. Andy Beshear has acted by executive order to ban the use of TikTok on Executive Branch devices, the Legislative Research Commission has done likewise and the Judicial Branch blocks access to all social media sites, not just TikTok, on their computers. Mills says executive orders last only as long as the person who issues them, so he would like to see it become state law.

The bill passed the Senate on a 31-0 vote, and now heads to the House for consideration.