Orange County is following the federal government’s guidance to ban TikTok from government devices and equipment.
Vice Chairman Andrew Do and Sheriff Don Barnes proposed the ban to ensure the safety and security of County data, information, and technology from potential hacking by the communist government of China.
“We are taking proactive steps to ensure the County of Orange is following best security practices to protect our County and the residents we serve,” said Vice Chairman Andrew Do.
On Tuesday, March 14, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the ban on TikTok, which prohibits downloading, viewing, or using TikTok on any County device or equipment, except as necessary for law enforcement purposes.
“Today’s action is necessary to protect our county IT devices from the threat to national security that TikTok poses,” said Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes. “I also encourage the public, particularly parents, to consider the potential for compromised data and negative influence on users and take action to secure your personal devices.”
TikTok Vulnerable to Chinese Communist Government Hacking
Under the guise of national security, the Communist government of China can force businesses operating within the country, including TikTok, to hand over private user data to government authorities without a warrant. Such user data, which is often collected regardless of whether the user saves or uploads any content, can be used by the Chinese Communist government to identify, arrest, and persecute political opponents, religious groups, ethnic minorities, and social activists.
TikTok has publicly acknowledged that its Chinese-based employees could access U.S. user data, according to a letter written by CEO Shou Zi Chew.
Last December, Orange County’s IT Department utilized cybersecurity tools to mitigate the threats posed by TikTok to the County’s network. KC Roestenberg, Orange County’s Chief Information Officer, says that applications, such as TikTok, pose a substantial risk to the overall integrity of County systems and data.
“By banning TikTok from County devices, we will mitigate the high-security risks associated with the app and ensure the protection of our constituent’s private data,” said Orange County CIO KC Roestenberg. “Social media plays an important role in the County’s ability to communicate and perform community outreach. As such, it is critical that the social media platforms we use are trusted and comply with a reasonable level of regulation.”
Orange County’s ban on TikTok follows the guidance of the federal government, which has adopted numerous bans on the controversial smartphone applications due to cybersecurity concerns brought by the Pentagon. In 2018, the Pentagon banned the use of geolocators on fitness trackers and smartphones after it was revealed that Strava, a fitness app, may have inadvertently exposed the locations of security forces worldwide. In 2019, the United States Army and United States Navy banned TikTok from its government phones.
Last December, the United States House of Representatives ordered staff to delete TikTok from any House-issued mobile phones. Earlier this month, a dozen U.S. senators unveiled bipartisan legislation expanding Biden’s legal authority to ban TikTok nationwide under the RESTRICT Act.