All US House of Representative lawmakers and staffers have been issued a directive to remove TikTok from their government-issued mobile devices in the latest move prohibiting the use of the Chinese video-sharing platform in the country.
Catherine L Szpindor, the chief administrative officer of the House, reportedly issued the directive, deeming TikTok a “security risk”.
“House staff are NOT allowed to download the TikTok app on any House mobile devices. If you have the TikTok app on your House mobile device, you will be contacted to remove it,” the memo said, according to NBC News.
The latest memo from the House chief administrative officer reportedly also said future downloads of the app are prohibited.
With this move, the US House joins a list of government bodies in the country to prohibit the use of the Chinese platform.
In December, members of the US Senate called for prohibiting all federal employees from downloading or using the ByteDance-owned platform.
The US Congress also proposed a ban on TikTok from most government devices amid spying and censorship concerns surrounding the app in a $1.7 trillion bill unveiled last week.
There has been growing bipartisan concern that Beijing may use some of its regulatory power over Chinese companies, including ByteDance, to control American user data.
Several states in the US, including Maryland, Texas, Georgia and Utah have banned state agencies from downloading and using TikTok following reports alleging that China’s state-backed hackers stole millions of Covid relief funds in the US.
“TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices – including when, where, and how they conduct internet activity – and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” Texas governor Greg Abbott said in a letter to Lt Gov Dan Patrick, Texas Speaker Dade Phelan and state agency leaders.
The app has also been banned by some US universities and colleges, including The University of Oklahoma and Auburn University in Alabama, following the government crackdowns against the app.
“With the passage of the Omnibus that banned TikTok on executive branch devices, the CAO worked with the Committee on House Administration to implement a similar policy for the House,” a spokesperson for the Chief Administrative Officer told Reuters.
“It is troubling that rather than encouraging the administration to conclude its national security review of TikTok, some members of Congress have decided to push for a politically-motivated ban that will do nothing to advance the national security of the US,” the spokesperson said.