The Bucks County Commissioners are joining a growing number of local, state, and federal agencies that have banned popular app TikTok on government-owned devices.
Bucks County Commissioners Chairperson Bob Harvie, a Democrat, said Wednesday that the move comes due to security concerns over privacy and access the Chinese government may have to the app.
Harvie said the county TikTok account, which has more than 1,000 followers, will be paused as part of the ban.
The commissioner made clear the county isn’t banning employees or anyone else from having the app on their personal devices.
The Bucks County Communications Department runs the county’s TikTok account, and one employee had been authorized to have the app on their government device. However, Harvie said other devices may have the app, but it wasn’t authorized to be on those devices, as there are no other official county TikTok apps.
The county posted a TikTok video Thursday afternoon advising followers to follow county government on other social media platforms.
ByteDance, a Chinese company that relocated its corporate headquarters to Singapore in 2020, owns TikTok. The Chinese government, according to critics, could have access to user information like browsing history and location through the app.
The Associated Press reported federal authorities worry the app might allow the Chinese government access to obtain information on government officials or facilities. They also worry the Chinese government could spread pro-China narratives through the app.
“Fears were stoked by news reports last year that a China-based team improperly accessed data of U.S. TikTok users, including two journalists, as part of a covert surveillance program to ferret out the source of leaks to the press,” the Associated Press reported.
In North America, TikTok has been reported to have more than 183 million users.
In China, TikTok debuted on September 2016. It gained popularity very rapidly in China, and the following year, ByteDance released an international version.
The news in Bucks County came on the same day the county government and district attorney sued ByteDance and other social media companies for alleged harm they are causing to kids.