Wyoming Governor Reviewing Use of Chinese-Owned TikTok; No Ban Yet

Gov Mark Gordon has asked for a review of the social media platform TikTok. Some other Republican governors have banned their state agencies from using it due to concerns it could be gathering intelligence for China.

Clair McFarland

December 09, 20224 min read

Collage Maker 09 Dec 2022 11 37 AM
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has asked for a review of the prevalence of the social media platform TikTok within state government, but has not yet determined a course of action with respect to the popular app, his spokesman said Friday. 

“There have been conversations, and we’re currently reviewing the use of TikTok,” Michael Pearlman, Gordon’s spokesman, told Cowboy State Daily. “It doesn’t appear there’s very much use of TikTok in Wyoming state government; however, the governor has asked to review the use of the app.” 

Pearlman said the governor’s office is in the process of that review.  

Security Concerns 

Gordon’s scrutiny comes after multiple state governors in the U.S. have banned or restricted TikTok, whose parent company Bytedance is based in China.  

Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Nov. 29 signed an executive order banning the video-streaming application altogether for state government agencies, employees and contractors using state devices.

Noem said the app poses security concerns.  

“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of the Chinese Communist Party,” Noem announced.  

Noem was not the first to take action. Her order comes more than two years after Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts announced a TikTok app ban for state devices in 2020.   

Ricketts said because of its Chinese ownership, TikTok is “legally obligated to provide data from its users to the country’s communist regime upon request.”   

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in September of this year signed a broad executive order aimed at preventing state government entities from using or obtaining any systems found to pose an “undue or unacceptable risk” to Floridians’ safety due to foreign connections.  

DeSantis’ September order did not mention TikTok specifically.  

Every Day This Week 

Other GOP governors followed the gesture this week.  

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued a directive Monday ordering the permanent removal of TikTok from state devices.  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday issued an emergency cybersecurity directive prohibiting “certain Chinese and Russian-influenced products and platforms in state government – including TikTok.”  

The next day, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also announced a state government ban on the app, saying TikTok “harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices – including when, where and how they conduct internet activity – and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chine government.”  

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed his own state government TikTok ban Thursday.  

‘Everything Is Seen’ 

CNN Business attributed the GOP governors’ reactions to a June Buzzfeed News report that said some U.S. user data has been “repeatedly” accessed from China. 

“The reporting cited leaked audio recordings of dozens of internal TikTok meetings, including one where a TikTok employee allegedly said, ‘Everything is seen in China.’”  

FBI Director Christopher Wray also raised concerns Dec. 3, the Washington Examiner reported.  

Wray said TikTok “in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States,” according to the news report.  

TikTok Says … 

A TikTok executive testified before a U.S. Senate panel in 2021 that a U.S.-based security team decides who can access Americans’ user data from China, and that it doesn’t share information with the Chinese government, CNN reported.  

Forbes on Friday dispatched an opinion column saying businesses can benefit from using TikTok, because it “creates a fun and interesting way for customers to interact with your business.”  

Srikar Karra, the Forbes Council member who penned the column, also encouraged TikTok as an advertising platform and touted it as a more interactive entertainment platform than other social media outlets.  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter