Lawmakers urge Evers to drop TikTok

Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 7, 2022

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Members of Wisconsin’s Republican congressional delegation are calling on Gov. Tony Evers to ban TikTok from state government devices, and to delete his own TikTok account.

The lawmakers — including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, sent the governor a letter warning of the national security concerns surrounding the social media platform and its close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

“We write to urge you to ban TikTok from Wisconsin government devices and to lead by example and delete TikTok from your own devices,” the letter states. “TikTok is nefarious Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spyware that surveils American citizens, promotes CCP propaganda, and allows the CCP to censor and control Americans’ news and content.”

The lawmakers — including Reps. Bryan Steil (R-1st CD), Scott Fitzgerald (R-5th CD), Glenn Grothman (R-6th CD), Tom Tiffany (R-7th CD), and Mike Gallagher (R-8th CD), note congress and multiple Biden administration officials have raised concerns about TikTok on national security grounds. Gallagher has pushed for legislation banning the social media giant in the U.S.

“These concerns are not localized at the federal level—this affects the Wisconsin state government and Wisconsinites at large. As governor, you should prohibit this app from state government devices,” the letter states.

Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback told AP the administration takes cybersecurity threats “very seriously” and regularly consults with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and counterintelligence specialists when making decisions about state government devices.

“We will continue to defer to the judgment and advice of law enforcement, cybersecurity, and counterintelligence experts regarding this and other evolving cybersecurity issues,” Cudaback said.

Maryland on Tuesday became the latest state to ban the use of TikTok as well as other China- and Russia-based platforms in the state’s executive branch of government. South Dakota and South Carolina recently announced they are doing the same. Nebraska has done so since 2020, and the U.S. armed forces have banned the app on military devices.

Steil said TikTok presents “clear national security risks.”

“To protect Wisconsin’s government data and our personal data, we should not be using TikTok on government devices,” the Janesville Republican said, thanking Gallagher or leading the effort to combat government use of TikTok.

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