By David Shepardson
(Reuters) -Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said on Friday he plans to join other states in banning use of the popular video app TikTok on government-managed devices.
Evers, a Democrat, told WISN-TV in Milwaukee he would issue an order banning the short-video app owned by Chinese technology conglomerate ByteDance, early next week. His office confirmed the plan to Reuters.
About 20 U.S. states have banned TikTok from state-owned devices, citing concerns about its Chinese ownership. Last month, President Biden signed into law a government funding bill that included a ban on federal employees from using or downloading TikTok on government-owned devices.
The law gives the White House Office of Management and Budget 60 days “to develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal” of TikTok from federal devices.
Republican governors have led the charge to ban TikTok from state devices and some Democratic governors have resisted the calls.
Representative Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican who has backed legislation seeking to ban TikTok nationally, said Friday that “now that Governor Evers has recognized the threat posed by the app, I hope he will also delete his campaign’s TikTok account.”
Evers’ office said the governor does not maintain a personal or official TikTok account or have TikTok installed on any of his personal or state devices. His campaign did have an account but it was not maintained using any state government device.
Calls to ban TikTok from government devices gained steam after U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November it poses national security risks. Wray flagged the threat that the Chinese government could harness the app to influence users or control their devices.
Reuters reported Friday TikTok has put on hold a hiring process for consultants that would help it implement a potential security agreement with the United States, two people familiar with the matter said, as more U.S. officials oppose such a deal.
For three years, TikTok has been seeking to assure Washington that the personal data of U.S. citizens cannot be accessed and its content cannot be manipulated by China’s Communist Party or any other entity under Beijing’s influence.