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House joins Senate in putting TikTok ban for Kentucky employees into law

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House joins Senate in putting TikTok ban for Kentucky employees into law

Mar 15, 2023 | 5:29 pm ET
By McKenna Horsley
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House joins Senate in putting TikTok ban for Kentucky employees into law
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(Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FRANKFORT — With time running out for the 2023 General Assembly to pass bills, House members approved a measure to codify an executive and legislative branch ban on using TikTok.

The House voted 96-3 on Senate Bill 20 Wednesday. Those who voted no were Democratic Reps. Cherlynn Stevenson, Lisa Willner and Sarah Stalker. 

The bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Robby Mills, R-Henderson, has previously cited when presenting the bill concerns from the FBI about national security risks posed by TikTok and its capacity to influence users or their devices. The social media site, where users can share minutes-long videos, is owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance. 

Earlier this session, no senators objected to the bill in their chamber and gave it bipartisan support.  

If the bill becomes law, the Commonwealth Office of Technology and the legislative branch would have to implement controls to block the site on state-issued devices and networks. The judicial branch may also implement a ban or restrictions. 

The bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Scott Sharp, R-Ashland, echoed Mills’ concerns and said: “The FBI has warned that the Chinese can use this application to influence and spy on its users.” 

A House committee substitute version of the bill says the ban would not apply to Kentucky colleges and universities. Additionally, agencies that determine a need to use the app in instances like law enforcement activities, civil investigations or security threat research could use Tik Tok if the agency takes steps to not endanger its network or another state government-controlled network. 

Earlier this year, executive branch employees were barred from downloading or using TikTok or other sites owned by ByteDance on state-issued devices. The Legislative Research Committee also banned the use of TikTok on LRC-issued devices on Jan. 20. 

Governors in other states, including Arkansas, Ohio and Alaska, have introduced similar bans. 

A U.S. Senate bill, which has received bipartisan and White House support, would bolster the U.S. Commerce Department’s ability to “review deals, software updates or data transfers by information and communications technology in which a foreign adversary has an interest” for national security risks, CNBC reported.