ATLANTA — A state senator wants to ban the social media app TikTok in Georgia, calling it malware produced by China.
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Jason Anavitarte, a Republican from Paulding County, posted his proposal in a statement on Facebook.
“TikTok is malware produced by Communist China to spy on Americans and influence our elections,” he said. “It is a national security threat that has no place in Georgia.”
He also called for an executive order banning the app on all state-owned devices and personal devices that access sensitive government systems.
“Banning TikTok via the legislative process may take some time, but Governor Kemp can have an immediate impact on our cyber security by prohibiting TikTok in executive agencies,” he said.
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While TikTok is not directly operated by the Chinese government, its parent company, ByteDance, is headquartered in Beijing. Under Chinese law, he said, all citizens and businesses “assist in intelligence gathering and share any data with (the) Chinese government.”
Channel 2′s Bryan Mims reached out to Anavitarte by phone Thursday, but his calls were not immediately returned.
Comments poured in on Anavitarte’s Facebook page, with many expressing support for the ban. “I support this legislation 100 percent!” wrote one person. “Finally someone doing something about China,” wrote another. Others questioned the move, saying it’s government overreach.
Several students at Georgia State University criticized the proposal. “I think that’s really stupid because everybody likes TikTok; everybody enjoys TikTok,” said Jykiya Williams. “It’s an escape from school and all that stress and stuff.”
Ferdoushi Akter agreed. “We are in the United States — why are you banning technology that’s already here?” she said. “It’s a good technology. I get so much information from TikTok.”
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Anavitarte wrote that China has a long history of using telecommunications companies for “nefarious purposes.”
“Whether it’s making sure state and local governments don’t use TikTok, or preventing the application from being downloaded in the first place, all options must be on the table to make sure the Chinese Communist Party isn’t spreading its malware in Georgia,” he said.
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