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TikTok banned on Charlotte city employee work phones, NC lawmakers call on Gov. Cooper to do the same

In a push for national security, NC officials are hoping to get TikTok banned from government-issued devices. South Carolina has already instituted this ban.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A growing number of government entities continue to ban TikTok from work devices as concerns grow over the app's security issues.

The city of Charlotte has joined the list of these entities and is planning to completely remove TikTok from all city devices by Jan. 6, 2023. According to a city of Charlotte spokesperson, the move is due to a warning from the FBI about potential national security concerns associated with the app. 

City of Charlotte officials blocked TikTok on the city's network on Dec. 21 and notified employees that the app would be removed from city devices in the near future. 

In an audit on Wednesday, officials found that many users still had TikTok downloaded on their city devices. TikTok will be remotely removed from these devices if the app is not removed by Jan. 6. Employees can submit an exception to this rule if they believe they have a valid business reason for using TikTok.

The House of Representatives banned TikTok from House-issued devices on Wednesday. This move comes ahead of a rumored TikTok ban at the federal level.

Several states had already made the move to ban the app from government-issued devices. South Carolina was one of the first to take the action, blocking the app in early December after a request from Governor Henry McMaster.

“Federal law enforcement and national security officials have warned that TikTok poses a clear and present danger to its users, and a growing bi-partisan coalition in Congress is pushing to ban access to TikTok in the United States,” said McMaster in a letter.

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North Carolina has stayed mostly quiet on the subject but on Wednesday two state representatives are now calling on Governor Roy Cooper to put a similar ban in place.

Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) sent a joint letter to Cooper on Wednesday requesting the ban. The two cite national security issues as motivation for the ban request.

"If sensitive data is breached, it could pose an economic and a security threat for North Carolina," said the letter. "We have a responsibility to prevent this from happening, which is why we are urging an executive order to be issued as soon as possible." 

The representatives note that if no order is issued by Cooper, they will work in 2023 to get legislation in place that would ban TikTok from government-issued devices.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said early in December that there were national security concerns about TikTok because the Chinese-based platform is in the hands of that nation's government.

Wray said the FBI is worried the Chinese government has the ability to control the app's recommendation algorithm and that it could influence and manipulate content, as well as collect data on users. Wray has raised similar concerns before in Congressional hearings. 

Officially TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a private company.

U.S. officials and the company are now in talks over a possible agreement that would resolve American security concerns, a process that Wray said was taking place across U.S. government agencies.

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