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Hogan orders TikTok ban for Maryland government employees

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has implemented a ban on TikTok in the state’s executive branch, citing security concerns over Chinese-based owner ByteDance.

In a news release on Tuesday, Hogan, whose second term as governor of Maryland ends next month, issued an emergency cybersecurity directive that would prohibit state employees from using certain Chinese and Russian-influenced products and platforms in their executive government branch.

Along with TikTok, eight other foreign-based entities were banned for use in the state’s executive branch of government, including Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Tencent Holdings, Tencent QQ and AliPay. 

Hogan said that the banned entities present an “unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk to the state,” saying those entities may be involved in acts such as “cyber-espionage, surveillance of government entities, and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.” 

“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.”

Maryland is just the latest state to initiate a ban on the use of TikTok in the government. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) last week announced that she had implemented a ban on TikTok on state government-issued devices, citing security concerns.

In an interview with Axios last month, Brendan Carr, one of the five commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission, told the news outlet that the government should should implement a ban on TikTok due to data concerns.