RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order banning the use of certain China-owned smartphone applications and websites on all state government devices and networks in Virginia.
The order specifically bans TikTok and WeChat as part of a sweeping ban on all applications developed by ByteDance Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. Both technology companies are based in China.
The social media platforms will be banned from all state government devices and wireless networks. All businesses that contract with the state government will also be prohibited from using the applications on state-owned devices or IT infrastructure.
“TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American,” Youngkin said. “We are taking this step today to secure state government devices and wireless networks from the threat of infiltration and ensure that we safeguard the data and cybersecurity of state government.”
Last week, 8News reported that Republican governors in at least six states have issued similar executive orders, including Maryland, Texas, South Carolina, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Last week, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee in Congress, endorsed the steps other GOP states have taken.
“I think it’s absolutely appropriate that more states are prohibiting employees from having TikTok on their government-issued devices,” Warner said in a statement last week. “TikTok is legally beholden to the Chinese Communist Party, and not only does it collect an alarming amount of information on users, but it could one day be used as a kind of propaganda machine to sway the minds of Americans or spread misinformation.”
Former President Donald Trump previously tried and failed to ban new downloads of TikTok, which President Joe Biden later replaced with another executive order directing an “evidence-based” analysis of apps like TikTok.