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White House gives agencies 30 days to impose federal device TikTok ban

WASHINGTON - The White House on Monday gave government agencies 30 days to ensure they do not have Chinese-owned app TikTok on federal devices and systems.

Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young told agencies in a guidance memorandum seen by Reuters they will be required to adjust information technology contracts to ensure vendors keep US data safe by eliminating the use of TikTok on their devices and systems.

TikTok has said the concerns are fueled by misinformation. The action does not affect the more than 100 million Americans who use TikTok on private or company-owned devices.

Congress in December voted to bar federal employees from using the Chinese-owned video app on government-owned devices and gave the Biden administration 60 days to issue agency directives.

The vote was the latest action by US lawmakers to crack down on Chinese companies amid national security fears that Beijing could use them to spy on Americans.

Federal Chief Information Security Officer Chris De Rusha said "this guidance is part of the Administration’s ongoing commitment to securing our digital infrastructure and protecting the American people’s security and privacy."

Many government agencies including the White House, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and the State Department had banned TikTok from government devices before the vote.

The TikTok ban does not apply if there are national security, law enforcement or security research activities but agency leadership must approve these activities, Young's memo said.

The memo said within 90 days, agencies must address any use of TikTok by IT vendors through contracts and with 120 days agencies will include a new prohibition on TikTok in all new solicitations. The federal contractor ban applies to equipment used in government work but does not "include any equipment acquired by a federal contractor incidental to a federal contract."

In a statement sent to GMA Integrated News, a spokesperson for TikTok said, "The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years."

"These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country's top national security agencies, and we are well underway in implementing them to further secure our platform in the United States," the spokesperson added.

Tiktok said the ban of the app on federal devices was passed in December without any deliberation, "and unfortunately that approach has served as a blueprint for other world governments."

"These bans are little more than political theater. We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government devices, Congress will explore solutions that won't have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans," the spokesperson said. —Reuters with a report from GMA Integrated News