CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It appears a bill to ban TikTok from West Virginia’s state owned computers and other devices will go through, but the final vote was moved to Wednesday after some key exceptions were made in a last minute amendment Tuesday that received a unanimous “yes.”
Like many states around the country, West Virginia’s Legislature is discussing a TikTok ban on state owned devices. Lawmakers believe the Chinese-owned app is being used to spy on people and governments and can be used to steal sensitive data.
Instead of an outright ban of TikTok on all state devices in West Virginia, there will be exceptions. Officials in law enforcement, military and homeland security, will still be allowed to use it during investigations and to gather intelligence.
The bill has wide bipartisan support.
“We would be concerned about the Chinese government mining our devices, but it’s a real security interest,” said State Sen. Mike Woelfel, (D) Cabell – Minority Leader.
“It’s just not worth the risk, right? I mean, is TikTok kind of fun? Sure, but we are controlling an enormous amount of the state’s financial information. And one simple video of a dog hopping around is not worth the risk of the Chinese government having control or access to our account information,” said State Auditor JB McCuskey, (R) West Virginia.
The State Auditor’s office has already banned employees from putting TikTok on any state owned devices, and now the legislature is poised to do it statewide with the exceptions that we noted.
As for whether TikTok and other social media apps are actually useful to law enforcement, investigators have said that information gleaned from TikTok and other social media actually helped break the case of the four University of Idaho students murdered in November.