By Maricopa County Supervisor Thomas Galvin
Government agencies possess a lot of sensitive data—some of it private in nature—and one of our core jobs is making sure that data is secure and cannot be compromised.
Unfortunately, we live in a time where privacy is more difficult to achieve than ever, whether you’re an individual or a large organization.
We know social media companies gather loads of personal information on users to better customize the content they serve. And we know TikTok is not alone in doing this. But there are national security and privacy concerns when TikTok’s interests interfere with the best interests of Maricopa County’s residents.
Today we are banning TikTok in particular, for three reasons:
TikTok is a wholly-owned subsidiary of a Beijing, China based technology firm, ByteDance. And we know that in China, what the government wants, the government gets. If the communist government tells ByteDance to hand over the sensitive data of Tik Tok’s American users, who will stop them? We can’t risk that.
Tik Tok has been found to have security vulnerabilities that could expose County-owned or County-leased devices to malicious actors. These vulnerabilities are unique to this app.
We are a proactive government. When something needs to get done, we don’t wait. We take action.
Several county governments of our size—such as Harris County, Los Angeles County, and Clark County—still have active TikTok accounts. Several other counties don’t post content on the app, but they have not banned TikTok from government devices.
We note that several state-level governmental entities in Arizona have banned TikTok from government devices through executive orders. But we will go further. Rather than just issue an order or directive, the Board is voting, on-the-record, so that County residents know where each of us stand. Maricopa County is the largest and first jurisdiction, in Arizona, to vote for a TikTok ban on government devices. Of the five largest counties in America, Maricopa County is the first to ban TikTok on government devices.
Further, the resolution we are approving today extends beyond TikTok because we know there are other applications that may pose cybersecurity risks to the County. The Board has asked our Office of Enterprise Technology to produce a yearly report, identifying other apps that pose cybersecurity threats and may need to be restricted. If we need to act in other cases, we will.
People are free to make choices about which apps they use and assess their own risk tolerance. But public servants must be held to a higher standard. I believe the privacy of our residents—and the security of their government—necessitates a ban on TikTok from Maricopa County’s devices.