Governor Kristi Noem took bold action to protect our national security yesterday—oh, no, wait: actually, she just issued an executive order banning South Dakota state employees and contractors from using TikTok on state computers, phones, and tablets:
“South Dakota will have no part in the intelligence gathering operations of nations who hate us,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “The Chinese Communist Party uses information that it gathers on TikTok to manipulate the American people, and they gather data off the devices that access the platform.”
…“Because of our serious duty to protect the private data of South Dakota citizens, we must take this action immediately. I hope other states will follow South Dakota’s lead, and Congress should take broader action, as well,” continued Governor Noem [Office of the Governor, press release, 2022.11.29].
Oh well: so much for SDSU’s effort to market itself on TikTok with an official account that has 9,085 followers. The Department of Tourism also had to nuke its 61,200-follower TikTok account. And just a couple months ago, Governor Noem was sharing TikTok videos and honoring a TikTok star for promoting South Dakota. Is Noem now doing penance for encouraging people to engage in a threat to national security?
As I noted back in September when Congressman Dusty Johnson made a fuss about TikTok, we should be more alarmed that state employees are noodling around on TikTok during work than that they are using an app that provides the Chinese just one more way to access our data. Why is any state employee spending any time making goofy little videos on any social media platform during office hours?
And if we’re worried about the Chinese or any other foreign power getting our sensitive data (taco recipes? predilections for puppies?), has the Governor checked where all of our employees’ phones are made? Has the Governor expressed any concern about the sensitive data about state employees and operations that Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter can capture and make available to bad actors?
The order does not prevent state employees from accessing TikTok on non-state devices, meaning the Red Chinese Menace can continue tracking the data, keystrokes, and location of all those state employees who use TikTok on their personal phones.
As usual, Governor Noem is neither profound nor original. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts banned TikTok from state devices over two years ago. Several federal agencies have also booted TikTok from their devices. Right-wing FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr called for banning TikTok at the beginning of the month (this is the same FCC Commissioner who thinks that Elon Musk having access to all of your data on Twitter is hunky-dory).