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Arkansas lawmakers to discuss bill banning TikTok from state agencies

This bill would ban the use of TikTok from all state agency devices.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas could soon join other states that have banned the use of TikTok on state-issued devices. Last week, we told you how governors from multiple states including Oklahoma and Texas have banned the app with executive orders. 

An Arkansas senator has filed a bill to prohibit public entities from using TikTok on any state-owned or leased device including phones and computers. If this becomes law it would mean state agencies like the Department of Health and ARDOT could not use the social media platform to get their message out.

“I think before the end of '23, you're gonna see most of the states in the United States ban this app from government phones,” said Sen. Gary Stubblefield.

Stubblefield co-authored a bill that would prohibit public entities from using the TikTok app or visiting its website on state devices because of security concerns.

TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. U.S. officials have warned that the Chinese government could force the company to share its data.

“The more data they collect, the more money they make, which is an incentive for more and more people, though, these kids to download this app,” he said.

Stubblefield, who is a Republican, represents District 26 which includes Franklin and Logan counties as well as part of Johnson and Sebastian counties. His proposed legislation comes as other states and the federal government assess the use of TikTok. The U.S. Senate unanimously approved a measure on Wednesday, Dec. 14, that would ban federal employees from using TikTok on all government devices.

“It’s very important that we do not allow them to have access to this data,” he said.

Senator Greg Leding is a Democrat who represents Fayetteville. While he’s aware of there being some potential national security concerns with TikTok, he’s not familiar with them enough to know if those concerns apply at the state level.

“I'm not necessarily against this legislation. But since TikTok does seem to be the way that so many young people get news and learn so much about what's going on in the world. I'm sort of hesitant at this point to say that I'm willing to ban it, and to keep the state from being able to use it to reach out to young Arkansans,” he said.

Unlike Oklahoma and Texas who banned TikTok via executive order, the bill filed in Arkansas would become law if passed by both the Senate and House and signed by incoming Governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Arkansas legislators are back in session in less than one month on January 9.

Since this bill has already been filed, it will likely be discussed early in the session.

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