Gov. Evers officially issues order banning TikTok on state-issued devices

Gov. Tony Evers officially declared Thursday that he will be banning TikTok and some software from other technology companies on state-issued devices.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 1:51 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2023 at 2:07 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Gov. Tony Evers officially declared Thursday that he will be banning TikTok and some software from other technology companies on state-issued devices.

The governor made the announcement on Twitter, noting that he consulted with experts in law enforcement, cybersecurity and counterintelligence in making the decision to issue an executive order.

“In the digital age, defending our state’s technology and cybersecurity infrastructure and protecting digital privacy have to be a top priority for us as a state,” said Gov. Evers.

Evers contended that issuing the order will ensure the state is vigilant in monitoring these technologies that he said could pose a security risk, while listening to the advice of experts in cybersecurity.

The order explains that the University of Wisconsin System does not have to follow the ban, as the Department of Administration’s Division of Enterprise Technology does not have the legal authority to order it to do so. The Wisconsin Departments of Justice and Public Instrution also have control and management of information technology systems.

The order also doesn’t apply to the judicial or legislative branches of government, according to the order.

The governor listed the following vendors and/or software as being prohibited from being used on state-issued devices:

  • TikTok
  • Huawei Technologies
  • ZTE Corp
  • Hytera Communications Corporation
  • Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company
  • Dashua Technology Company
  • Tencent Holdings, including but not limited to:
    • Tencent QQ
    • QQ Wallet
    • WeChat
  • Alibaba products, including but not limited to:
    • AliPay
  • Kaspersky Lab

Wisconsin is one of several states to issue some level of TikTok ban. North Carolina announced a ban Thursday as well, joining North and South Dakota and Nebraska, among others. Madison Area Technical College Marketing Professor Steve Noll says part of the reason behind the bans are the questions around where mined data actually goes and what data is gathered.

“The big question is there’s some mystery about who exactly is getting access to this data,” said Noll. “And is it just consumer purchasing Behavior or is it more personalized data coming off your phone? If TikTok is also somehow monitoring keystrokes and looking at other apps, it’s very possible that this could be a hacking tool that could compromise sensitive classified data.”

Noll says the ties to the Chinese government have been a point of contention for the U.S. government for years. Social media companies mine data, typically to sell to advertisers. Noll says concerns over cybersecurity link back to suspicions that the data mining on TikTok does not end there.

“You know TikTok is an app that falls under a category of what’s called a data scraper, it’s an app that, as you use it looks at what you are doing on your phone,” said Noll.

He says the move by state governments to remove the app from state-issued devices is a smart one, and believes big companies will adopt the policy at some point in the future.

The order states that Gov. Tony Evers has never had or used an official TikTok account, nor has an account on his behalf been made or managed on a state-issued device. Evers does have a verified account for his campaign for governor.

Evers noted in the order that TikTok has more than 94 million users in the United States as of 2022.

A spokesperson with the Governor’s Office confirmed last week that he would be issuing an executive order for the ban. Evers had previously said that the number of people who use TikTok on their state devices was small and that his administration was taking the issue seriously.

Click here to download the NBC15 News app or our NBC15 First Alert weather app.