Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has joined South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in banning the popular social media app TikTok. In an emergency directive, Gov. Hogan banned TikTok, as well as other “Chinese and Russian-influenced products and platforms,” from use by the executive branch of state government.

In a press release, Gov. Hogan defended the emergency cybersecurity directive by saying that “these entities present an unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk to the state, and may be involved in activities such as cyber-espionage, surveillance of government entities, and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.”

The directive – issued by the state’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – applies to TikTok, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Tencent Holdings, Alibaba products, and Kaspersky.

“There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives,” said Gov. Hogan. “As the cyber capital of America, Maryland has taken bold and decisive actions to prepare for and address cybersecurity threats. To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us.”

The governor’s office explained that per the directive, agencies must remove any of these products from state networks, implement measures to prevent installation of these products, and implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of, or access to, prohibited services.

“This action represents a critical step in protecting Maryland State systems from the cybersecurity threats caused by foreign organizations,” said state CISO Chip Stewart.

The state cited FBI Director Christopher Wray recently saying that TikTok is a threat to national security. “The Chinese government has shown a willingness to steal Americans’ data on a scale that dwarfs any other,” Wray said.

There have been a number of attempts to ban TikTok from the country writ large, as well as ban it on devices owned by specific agencies, as well as from use by the Federal government as a whole. The U.S. Senate has also probed military and national security personnel’s use of the app in both a professional and personal capacity. Concerns over using TikTok on government devices have been bipartisan, although most Federal legislation looking to ban the social media platform has come from Republican legislators.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs