Delete TikTok by March 29, White House Tells Feds
The Office of Management and Budget responds to a congressional push to ban the popular Chinese social-networking app from government devices.
The TikTok app must be removed from all government-issued devices and information technology within 30 days—that is, March 29—the White House ordered on Monday.
The popular social networking service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance has been downloaded more than 210 million times in the United States and features more than one billion users worldwide, according to company data.
Congress and U.S. officials have repeatedly raised privacy and data ownership concerns around the app, warning that it could be used to facilitate data on U.S. users to the Chinese government.
The Office of Management and Budget memorandum says agencies must include contractual language banning the use of the app on all devices within 90 days. The guidance follows legislation Congress passed late last year as part of the omnibus spending package that officially required federal agencies to ban TikTok after dozens of states moved to restrict the app on government devices.
In September 2022, TikTok chief operating officer Vanessa Pappas sparred with lawmakers during congressional testimony over concerns that U.S. data from TikTok was flowing to China. Pappas said the company was not influenced by the Chinese government and added: "We take this incredibly seriously in terms of upholding trust with U.S. citizens and ensuring the safety of U.S. user data."
Federal agencies are required to confirm compliance with the new guidance within three months to OMB, with only limited exceptions reserved for law enforcement, security research and certain national security interests and activities.
Privacy advocates have argued that TikTok collects vast troves of data on U.S. individuals that can be used for manipulative targeted advertising and influencing political opinions. Legal experts and lawmakers alike have also raised concerns about how the company handles data collected from users under the age of 18.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States opened a national security review into ByteDance in 2019 after the company bought the U.S. social media app Musical.ly as part of a $1 billion acquisition. ByteDance merged the apps together following the sale, leading to explosive growth on TikTok in the U.S.
The CEO of TikTok is scheduled to testify before Congress in late March.
"ByteDance-owned TikTok has knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data," said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., in a statement. "Americans deserve to know how these actions impact their privacy and data security, as well as what actions TikTok is taking to keep our kids safe from online and offline harms."