South Dakota bans TikTok on state devices over Chinese ‘security threat’

30 Nov 2022

Image: © Postmodern Studio/

The state’s governor said China gathers data from devices that access TikTok and uses this information to ‘manipulate the American people’.

The US state of South Dakota has banned the use of TikTok among government staff due to alleged data gathering by the Chinese Communist Party.

The ban applies to any South Dakota government agency, employee or contractor using state devices. It prohibits downloading or using the TikTok app or visiting the website on any state-owned or state-leased electronic device.

South Dakota’s government said this order is due to the “growing national security threat” posed by TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

Governor Kristi Noem claimed that China’s government gathers data from devices that access TikTok and uses this information to “manipulate the American people”.

“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of nations who hate us,” Noem added. “Because of our serious duty to protect the private data of South Dakota citizens, we must take this action immediately.

“I hope other states will follow South Dakota’s lead, and Congress should take broader action as well.”

This is the latest escalation in policy in the US towards Chinese companies over state spying and surveillance fears.

In 2020, former president Donald Trump issued an executive order stating that TikTok would be banned in the US for national security reasons unless sold by its Chinese parent company.

In response, TikTok partnered with Oracle and chose the company as its “trusted technology provider” in a bid to ease security concerns.

The companies announced in August that Oracle had been auditing TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation models to ensure they aren’t being manipulated by Chinese authorities.

But the social video app has been under scrutiny across the globe for its data practices. In October, it was announced that TikTok may be fined £27m in the UK for failing to protect the privacy of children on its platform.

TikTok also confirmed in November that employees in China and a host of other countries have remote access to European user data. In 2021, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission opened an inquiry into the company’s transfer of data to China and its compliance with GDPR.

Other Chinese companies have also been targeted by the US over national security concerns. Earlier this week, the US Federal Communications Commission banned telecoms equipment from Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE.

It said this ban was part of “ongoing actions to protect the American people from national security threats involving telecommunications”.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic