January 19, 2023 |

Carbon County will follow a national trend and ban the social media platform Tik Tok from government devices.

In mid-December, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon followed the trail of a dozen states, including South Dakota, in banning TikTok from all state electronic devices and internet-connected networks because the app could be used by foreign governments to gather data on Americans.

In announcing the ban, the governor said, “The potential for foreign governments to access information collected by TikTok is extremely troubling.”

Similar bans are spreading to the local level. Carbon County IT Director Matt Webster asked the board of commissioners on December 20th if a similar ban should be put into place here. Webster explained how TikTok could be used by the Chinese Communist Party to spy the app’s users.

The controversial social media app is known for its ties to the Chinese government. In the program’s terms of service, TikTok is permitted to collect user’s biometric data. Through a person’s phone camera, TikTok can see and hear how users react to videos.

If used in a government building, a person could, unintentionally, allow the app to access sensitive information. To avoid potential intrusion by hackers associated with the app’s developers, Webster said he has asked county employees not to connect devices with TikTok installed to the county network.

During the December 20th Carbon County commissioners meeting, Commissioner Sue Jones asked Webster to alter the county’s personnel policies, forbidding the app from being installed on the county’s 300 internet capable devices. The county IT director said his department is rewriting the internet usage policy to reflect this change.

The sheriff’s department and the county attorney would be exempt from the ban, allowing the agencies to use data collected from TikTok during criminal investigations.

TikTok was established in 2016. According to recent marketing reports, the short-form video-sharing app has one billion active users each month.

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