Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp bans TikTok in Peach State executive agencies

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has banned state executive agencies from using TikTok, joining other Republican governors in taking action against the popular but Chinese government-linked social media app. 

The governor sent a memo to all the heads of Georgia state agencies Thursday outlining his concerns over the platform's links to the Chinese Communist Party and its potential threat to national security. 

"The State of Georgia has a responsibility to prevent any attempt to access and infiltrate its secure data and sensitive information by foreign adversaries such as the CCP," Kemp wrote. "The CCP poses an ever-present national security threat to the United States and Georgia. As such, it is our duty to take action to preserve the safety and security of our state against the CCP, entities it controls, and other foreign cyberthreats." 

"Effective immediately, all Georgia executive branch agencies, departments, divisions, bureaus, boards, authorities, and commissions are prohibited from using TikTok, WeChat, and Telegram on all systems and devices that are issued, owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by the state or used for state business," the memo states.  

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp speaks during a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Mason Mega Rail Station at the Garden City Port Terminal on Nov. 12, 2021, in Garden City, Georgia. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Kemp's action follows similar executive orders signed by Republican governors who have called TikTok a cyber and national security threat. 

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum banned TikTok on Tuesday, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did so last week. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also banned state employees and contractors from accessing TikTok on state-owned devices, telling Fox News earlier this month that the app jeopardizes the personal data of all South Dakotans, and by extension, Americans. 

She said what China is doing with TikTok is comparable to how pre-Elon Musk Twitter manipulated algorithms to advance a political narrative or censor dissenting narratives, but on a much larger scale. 

"It's so much worse. And they're our enemy. They hate us. This is why it's so important that other elected officials take action as well," she said.

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TikTok app logo on the App Store is seen with TikTok logo displayed in the background in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on July 18, 2021.  (Photo Ilustration by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Federal lawmakers have also taken action. In a rare showing of bipartisan consensus, the United States Senate unanimously passed a bill introduced by Republicans that would ban TikTok on government devices. 

"TikTok is a Trojan Horse for the Chinese Communist Party. It’s a major security risk to the United States, and until it is forced to sever ties with China completely, it has no place on government devices," bill sponsor Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said. "States across the U.S. are banning TikTok on government devices. It’s time for Joe Biden and the Democrats to help do the same."

SENATE PASSES BILL THAT WOULD BAN TIKTOK ON GOVERNMENT DEVICES

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asks a question during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images / Getty Images)

During a speech at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy on Dec. 2, FBI Director Christopher Wray said that Chinese officials have broad access to TikTok, allowing them "to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations."

"All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values, and that has a mission that's very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us," Wray said

Georgia state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, a Republican, has also introduced legislation that would completely ban TikTok in the Peach State, calling it "malware produced by communist China to influence our elections."  

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"While the app isn’t operated directly by the Chinese government, its parent company is located in Beijing and China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law requires all citizens and businesses to assist in intelligence gathering and share any date with the Chinese government," Anavitarte said in a statement last week. 

TikTok pushed back against the bans Wednesday, telling Fox Business in a statement, "We're disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok that will do nothing to advance the national security of the United States."

TikTok is owned by the China-based ByteDance.

Fox News' Charles Creitz, Adam Sabes, and Chad Pergram contributed to this report. 

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