The Legislature voted unanimously this week to ban TikTok from all electronic devices owned or controlled by the state government.
Following the initial introduction of LD 1007, a directive was issued by Maine Information Technology (MaineIT) stating that any applications developed by ByteDance Limited, including TikTok, are prohibited from all state-issued devices, as well as any personal devices connected to state systems.
MaineIT also this week delivered a memorandum to all state employees instructed them that use of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies were prohibited.
Rep. Nathan M. Carlow (R-Buxton), the bill’s sponsor, testified before the Committee on State and Local Government that “TikTok isn’t just a video-hosting mobile application, it is a clear and present danger to our national security.”
“The executive, judicial, constitutional, and legislative employees who use this application on their work devices are endangering not only their own privacy, but the confidential records that are maintained by the State on behalf of the thousands of people and businesses who deal with state agencies and departments,” he said.
After explaining that “TikTok has told the world that they have no compunction about collecting information about specific individuals and then proceeding to use that information for nefarious purposes,” Rep. Carlow went on to lay out the app’s legal obligations to the Chinese Communist Party.
“TikTok is owned by ByteDance, which is based in China and subject to Chinese law.
Companies based in China are required to turn over documents and records upon request of the Chinese Communist Party,” he said. “If TikTok has the capability to surveil journalists, then we have no reason to believe they can’t or won’t spy on State employees, and covertly collect the confidential information of our constituents.”
Originally, the bill would have prohibited use of the app under all circumstances, but a House amendment, introduced by Rep. Randall Adam Greenwood (R-Wales), added language that would allow the use of TikTok on government devices if it were deemed “necessary for life, health, safety or investigative purposes in accordance with a policy adopted by a state agency.”
Both the House and Senate unanimously supported the amendment.
The federal government similarly banned TikTok on government devices earlier this year as part of a 4,000-plus page spending bill signed into law by President Biden.
As of January of 2023, 33 states, including Maine, had put in place some form of a ban on TikTok for government-issued devices.
Montana recently became the first state in the nation to ban TikTok entirely, imposing fines up to $10,000 a day on platforms offering the app starting on January 1, 2024.