MADISON — Wisconsin’s Republican representatives in Congress on Tuesday called on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to delete the video platform TikTok from all state government devices, including his own, calling it a national security threat.
The lawmakers told Evers in a letter that the popular video sharing app should be removed because it can be used by the Chinese government to spy on users and promote Chinese Communist Party propaganda.
“Wisconsinites expect their governor to be aware of the dangerous national security threats TikTok poses and to protect them from this avenue for CCP intelligence operations,” said the letter signed by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher, Tom Tiffany, Glenn Grothman, Bryan Steil and Scott Fitzgerald.
The request comes a week after South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, banned state employees and contractors from accessing TikTok on state-owned devices, citing its ties to China. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, also a Republican, on Monday banned TikTok from all state government devices.
Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback reacted on Twitter without saying whether the governor would agree to the request.
“My favorite part about Wisconsin Republicans’ (tilde)we want to work together(tilde) narrative is when they send a formal, three-page letter that could’ve been a phone call just so they leak to press and get stories like this,” she said in reference to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story, which first reported on the letter. “In the spirit of bipartisanship, of course!”
Cudaback did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access user data, such as browsing history and location. U.S. armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices.
TikTok, which has exploded in popularity with a nearly addictive scroll of videos, has also struggled to detect ads that contain blatant misinformation about U.S. elections, according to a recent report from nonprofit Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy team at New York University.
TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, based in Los Angeles, has said the company protects all data of American users and that Chinese government officials have no access to it.
Former President Donald Trump issued blanket-style orders against Chinese tech companies, but the White House under President Joe Biden has replaced them with a narrower approach. U.S. officials and the company are now in talks over a possible agreement that would resolve American security concerns.