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CT lawmakers advance a bill to ban TikTok from government devices

State legislators share the same concerns as those on Capitol Hill about the safety of Americans’ data in the hands of what they call a foreign adversary.

HARTFORD, Conn. — U.S. House representatives grilled TikTok CEO Shou Chew for more than five hours during a congressional hearing Thursday. 

As the conversation of whether to ban the social media app nationwide continues, there are moves here in Connecticut.

“We just want to keep people safe,” said Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. “We want to keep their personal safety, their privacy safe.”

State legislators voted Friday afternoon to advance a bill that would prohibit TikTok on government devices.

Lawmakers share the same concerns as those up on Capitol Hill about the safety of Americans’ data in the hands of what they call a foreign adversary.

“If you have that level of data about Americans, you can develop as a foreign adversary highly important information that can undermine the national security of the United States potentially,” said State Rep. Matt Blumenthal, (D-Stamford) co-chair of the Government Administration and Elections Committee.

The bill passed out of the GAE Committee Friday afternoon, but not without debate.

“The whole thing is kinda sus at this point,” remarked State Sen. Rob Sampson, (R-Cheshire) ranking member on the committee. 

Two amendments were introduced and subsequently shut down Friday. 

One was to remove the name “TikTok” from the bill text. Republican legislators argue the policy already covers an app like TikTok, negating the need to single it out.

“I get concerned that we’re going to be back here banning yet another company,” said State Rep. Gale Mastrofrancesco, (R-Southington) during the meeting. “This is an issue that’s going to evolve as social media evolves even further.”

Republicans on the committee said they haven’t seen enough solid evidence to prove TikTok is spying on U.S. users.

“I wouldn't trust Mark Zuckerberg with my data either,” Sampson said. “He could sell it to China for all I know”

Democrats believe there are reasons to be concerned about TikTok specifically.

“There is a particular concern related to the possibility of a foreign adversary having access to highly personal or sensitive data ad so as a result, we think it's probably a good idea to keep that app off of these state-issued devices,” added Blumenthal.

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When asked if there are any restrictions already in place for any other social media apps on government devices, Duff said, “There are not, but TikTok, I believe, has crossed the line.”

Despite the two amendments failing, most Republican legislators did vote to advance this bill Friday. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said this remains a bipartisan issue.

Duff said he does not have a TikTok account, while Blumenthal said yes, but not on any work devices.

Emma Wulfhorst is a political reporter for FOX61 News. She can be reached at ewulfhorst@fox61.com. Follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


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