TRENTON – While a handful of states have moved to ban TikTok from their employees’ computers and phones, New Jersey officials haven’t made a similar move but have had discussions about apps that pose potential security risks.

Policies for the security of mobile devices for the state’s executive branch are set by the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and its Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell Division.

Communications director Maria Prato said any outright ban of hardware or software products would first be discussed with the agencies that would be affected.

“The decision to ban or restrict the use of a particular app or website can depend on a variety of factors, including the potential risks and benefits of using the app or website, the policies and practices of the developers, and the overall security and privacy landscape,” Prato said.

“NJCCIC continues to have ongoing discussions with other state departments regarding sites and applications that represent security risks and is prepared to provide the appropriate guidance needed,” she said.

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On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan banned the use of TikTok and certain China and Russia-based platforms in the state’s executive branch of government, citing an unacceptable cybersecurity risk to the state.

The Republican, who is considering running for president, announced an emergency cybersecurity directive to prohibit the use of the platforms, saying they may be involved in cyber-espionage, surveillance of government entities and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.

The issue has gained increasing traction in conservative circles.

Wisconsin's Republican representatives in Congress on Tuesday called on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to delete TikTok from all state government devices.

Last week, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem banned state employees and contractors from accessing TikTok on state-owned devices, citing its ties to China. And on Monday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster banned TikTok from all state government devices.

Last week, FBI Director Chris Wray said China could use the app to collect data on its users that could be used for traditional espionage operations as part of his growing warnings about the popular video-sharing app.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company that moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020. It has been targeted by Republicans who say the Chinese government could access user data, such as browsing history and location. U.S. armed forces also have prohibited the app on military devices.

TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, based in Los Angeles, has said the company protects all data of American users and that Chinese government officials have no access to it.

Former President Donald Trump issued blanket-style orders against Chinese tech companies, but the White House under President Joe Biden has replaced them with a narrower approach. U.S. officials and the company are now in talks over a possible agreement that would resolve American security concerns.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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