Maryland (Surinder Gill) - These entities present an unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk to the state, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday, and the products may be involved in cyber-espionage, surveillance of government entities, and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.
TikTok is a widely popular video-sharing app, owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance.
“There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives,” Hogan said in a statement. “As the cyber capital of America, Maryland has taken bold and decisive actions to prepare for and address cybersecurity threats. To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us.”
The emergency cyberscurity directive applies to TikTok, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, and Tencent Holdings, including but not limited to Tencent QQ, QQ Wallet, and WeChat; along with Alibaba products, including, but not limited to AliPay; and Kaspersky.
Agencies must remove any of these products from state networks, implement measures to prevent installation of these products, and implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of, or access to, prohibited services.
“This action represents a critical step in protecting Maryland state systems from the cybersecurity threats caused by foreign organizations,” said State Chief Information Security Officer Chip Stewart, in a news release.
Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray said TikTok poses a threat to national security as a Chinese-owned app “that doesn’t share our values” and could “manipulate content,” TIME reported. The popular app boasted more than 1 billion active global users last year, a majority of which are American.
National security laws in China require private companies operating in the country to provide their data to the government if requested. “The Chinese government has shown a willingness to steal Americans’ data on a scale that dwarfs any other,” Wray said.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida last month introduced a bill that would ban the TikTok appnationwide, NPR reported.
On Monday,News reported that hackers linked to the Chinese government were involved in the theft of COVID benefits in the United States, including state unemployment funds.