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Gov. Kemp bans TikTok from Georgia state-issued devices

Kemp cited recent concerns from individuals - including FBI Director Chris Wray - on cybersecurity related to the app.

ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp has issued an order banning TikTok from all state devices, according to a memo he sent to State of Georgia agency heads.

The governor specified that "every executive branch agency, department, division, bureau, board, authority, and commission in Georgia shall prohibit the use of TikTok, WeChat, and Telegram on all systems and devices (including laptops and mobile devices) that are issued owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the state or used for state businesses."

In his memo, Kemp cited recent concerns from individuals - including FBI Director Chris Wray, who claimed that the app is in the hands of the Chinese government. 

Wray said the FBI was concerned that the Chinese had the ability to control the app’s recommendation algorithm, “which allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.” He also asserted that China could use the app to collect data on its users that could be used for traditional espionage operations.

"The State of Georgia has a responsibility to prevent any attempt to access and infiltrate its secure data and sensitive information by foreign adversaries," Kemp wrote in the memo. "It is our duty to take action to preserve the safety and security of our state against the CCP, entities it controls, and other foreign cyberthreats."

Recently, Georgia State Senator Jason Anavitarte announced intention to draft legislation that would ban the app statewide.

Forbes warned specifically of the account @NewsTokss, saying the Chinese media-backed account features coverage of U.S. national and international news.

TikTok isn't operated directly by the Chinese government. 

Its parent company ByteDance is headquartered in Beijing, and under China's national intelligence law, is required to assist in intelligence gathering from its citizens and businesses, and share data with the government, according to a news release.

It is important to note that TikTok does not exist in China - ByteDance has created its own version of the app for customers in the country. TikTok's CEO recently testified on Capitol Hill in September clarifying that the company doesn't store U.S. user data in China, nor is it shared with its parent company.

This is a developing story. Check back often for new information.

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