Maryland is outlawing the viral video streaming platform TikTok from state networks in an emergency directive.

Governor Larry Hogan cited cybersecurity threats associated with the platform as he announced the ban on Tuesday, December 6. 

Hogan said in a statement, “To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us.”

Executive branch organizations in Maryland must remove the products from state networks and restrict access. The measure also applies to Tencent QQ, QQ Wallet, WeChat, Alibaba’s AliPay, and Russia’s Kaspersky.

FBI Director Christopher Wray on December 3 warned that the Chinese government would exploit TikTok for espionage attempts, collect user data, and exert influence through recommendation algorithms.

The move came two days after NBC News reported that hackers with links to the Chinese government have siphoned off at least $20 million from the U.S. COVID relief funds. The report did not detail how the hacker conducted the steal.

Hogan viewed that “There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives.”

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which is subject to Beijing’s order to hand over data under China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law. The U.S. armed forces have also banned the viral app from military devices.

South Dakota enacted a TikTok ban from state-owned and state-leased devices on November 30. South Carolina followed suit on December 5, and Texas joined the line on December 7. But the earliest to impose the ban is Nebraska, which suspended TikTok on all state electronic devices in August 2020.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts stated, “The Chinese government has long engaged in systematic, covert efforts to access sensitive data from U.S. governments, companies, and individuals.”
Texas governor Greg Abbott on December 7 reminded that TikTok’s algorithm has already censored topics politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party.

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