RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin banned the use of several Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok and WeChat, on state government devices and wireless networks on Friday, calling them a threat to national security.
Youngkin’s executive order covers apps developed by ByteDance and Tencent. Businesses who contract with Virginia must also prohibit their use on state-owned devices or IT infrastructure.
“TikTok and WeChat data are a channel to the Chinese Communist Party, and their continued presence represents a threat to national security, the intelligence community, and the personal privacy of every single American,” Youngkin, a Republican, said in a statement. “We are taking this step today to secure state government devices and wireless networks from the threat of infiltration and ensure that we safeguard the data and cybersecurity of state government.”
Youngkin joins at least 14 others governors who have taken such an action, amid calls for Congress to also ban the use of the programs on federal government devices.
The executive order drew praise from one of Virginia’s Democratic U.S. senators, Mark Warner, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
“TikTok has the stamp of approval of the Chinese Communist Party and it poses a serious national security threat due to its data collection practices and its ability to reach and manipulate Americans. I hope to see more states take action to keep our government technology out of the CCP’s reach,” Warner, a former governor, said in a statement.
TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown said in an emailed statement that it was “disappointing that states and some federal officials are promoting falsehoods to ban the platform instead of advancing sound policies to promote U.S. national security interests.”
“Millions of Americans rely on TikTok to grow their small businesses, reach new audiences, and make their livelihoods,” Brown said.