TikTok Update: More State Legislative Activity and Legal Challenges
In total, at least 36 states have taken steps to restrict TikTok in some form. Six states in total have taken legislative action on TikTok, eight state governors signed executive orders, and 22 more governors used their existing authority to restrict TikTok across executive agencies or impose more limited restrictions in some but not all agencies.
Since ALEC’s last update on government efforts to ban TikTok from official devices and networks, there has been a flurry of new activity in state capitals and the judiciary, while the Biden Administration and Congress remain at an impasse on an expanded federal ban.
Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs issued an executive order restricting TikTok from state devices across the executive branch and encouraged Arizona’s legislative and judicial branches to adopt comparable policies, while Nevada implemented a new “blacklist” of prohibited hardware, software, and vendors—including TikTok, Tencent, and 12 additional companies—for use on state-owned devices and networks.
Legislatures in Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, and Montana enacted legislation restricting TikTok in the final weeks of 2023 regular legislative sessions. Unlike other state laws restricting the app on government-owned devices and networks, Montana’s law completely bans TikTok from all operations within the state, including private Montana users accessing TikTok on their personal devices. Individual TikTok users in Montana would not be subject to penalties, but both TikTok and mobile app stores that offer the TikTok app for download would be liable for $10,000 in fines per day for each discrete violation of the law.
As many, including Montana’s Attorney General, predicted, this controversial law immediately prompted two lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court: 1) A legal challenge submitted by five TikTok content creators, arguing that Montana’s law is “unconstitutional and preempted by federal law” and “violates the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,” and 2) A similar suit filed by TikTok itself, arguing that Montana’s ban “abridges freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment, violates the U.S. Constitution in multiple other respects, and is preempted by federal law.” TikTok asserts in the suit that Montana’s law is an unconstitutional bill of attainder and violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The following is an updated list of states that have taken steps to restrict TikTok in some form. As noted above, some governors opted to enact formal executive orders, while others utilized existing authority to implement TikTok bans across government agencies. Some state legislatures have even enacted new laws combatting TikTok or have legislation pending this session to that effect. And one state, Montana, has enacted legislation to ban the app entirely from public and private use.
Source: ALEC research, last updated May 26, 2023
- Alabama (Executive Action) – On December 12, 2022, Governor Kay Ivey issued a memorandum directing the State Secretary of Information Technology to prevent access to TikTok on state IT networks and state IT devices, while providing exceptions for law enforcement and “other essential governmental uses of the app.”
- Alaska (Executive Action) – On January 6, 2023, Governor Mike Dunleavy issued a memorandum directing all State Executive Branch agencies to prohibit the use of TikTok on all state-owned electronic devices and state networks, with exceptions for persons whose job duties include conducting administrative, civil, or criminal law enforcement or other investigations.
- Arizona (Executive Order) – On April 4, 2023, Governor Katie Hobbs issued Executive Order 2023-10 prohibiting the download and installation of TikTok on all state-owned devices and access to TikTok through state networks. The order covers all executive departments, agencies, offices, and all state boards and commissions, but does not cover statewide elected officials, independent boards and commissions, and the judicial and legislative branches, which are encouraged to adopt comparable policies. Beginning December 1, 2023, the Arizona Department of Administration and Department of Homeland Security shall produce a joint annual report identifying other applications that should be similarly restricted.
- Arkansas (Executive Action) – On December 8, 2022, Governor Asa Hutchinson directed the Arkansas Division of Information Systems to prohibit the use of TikTok on state-owned devices and state networks with exceptions for authorized law enforcement or security purposes.
- Delaware (Executive Action) – On January 23, 2023, Delaware Chief Information Officer Jason Clarke informed state agencies that TikTok is no longer permitted on state-owned devices or networks for all State of Delaware Computing Network users.
- Florida (Legislative Action) – On May 9, 2023, the Florida Legislature passed and Governor Ron DeSantis signed CS/HB 379 into law. CS/HB 379 prohibits the use of TikTok on school district-owned devices and school district networks. District schools, school-sponsored clubs, extracurricular organizations, and athletic teams are prohibited from using TikTok as a platform to communicate or promote their activities.
- Georgia (Executive Action) – On December 15, 2022, Governor Brian Kemp issued a memorandum directing all state executive branch agencies to prohibit the use of TikTok, WeChat, and Telegram—as well as all ByteDance products and Tencent Holdings products—on all state-owned devices or devices used for state business.
- Idaho (Legislative Action and Executive Order) – On March 24, 2023, the Idaho State Legislature passed and Governor Brad Little signed House Bill 274 into law. HB 20 prohibits all state government employees and contractors of the executive branch, state legislature, and the judiciary from downloading or using TikTok on state-issued devices and state networks. HB 20 specifically covers all state-funded agencies, departments, organizations, commissions, offices, divisions, boards, bureaus, councils, colleges, universities, administrations, corrections industries, the Idaho air national guard, Idaho army national guard, and Idaho state police (with exceptions for gathering military intelligence or criminal investigations by law enforcement), and any other division or subdivision funded in whole or in part through funds appropriated in the state budget. Any person who knowingly violates the provisions of this act shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Prior to the passage of HB 20, on December 14, 2022, Governor Brad Little issued Executive Order No. 2022-06 prohibiting executive branch agencies, entities, officials, or employees of the State of Idaho to download or use TikTok on state-owned devices, equipment, and state networks. This also includes government contractors.
- Indiana (Executive Action) – On December 7, 2022, the Indiana Office of Technology blocked TikTok from being used on state networks and state devices. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita also filed two lawsuits against TikTok.
- Iowa (Executive Action) – On December 13, 2022, Governor Kim Reynolds issued a directive banning TikTok on all state-owned devices and prohibiting state agencies from subscribing to or owning a TikTok account.
- Kansas (Executive Order) – On December 28, 2022, Governor Laura Kelly issued Executive Order No. 22-10 prohibiting all executive branch entities and their employees from using TikTok on state-owned devices or on state networks. The Executive Order also encourages other statewide elected officials, independent boards and commissions, the Regents Universities, and the judicial and legislative branches to adopt comparable policies.
- Kentucky (Legislative Action) – On March 22, 2023, the Kentucky General Assembly passed and Governor Andy Beshear signed Senate Bill 20 into law. SB 20 prohibits executive branch agencies, employees, and contractors, and Members of the Kentucky General Assembly and legislative agencies, staff, and contractors from downloading or using TikTok on any state networks or state-issued devices. The judicial branch of state government may implement controls to prohibit TikTok on judicial branch devices or networks. Exceptions to the ban include public postsecondary education institutions and executive branch agencies using TikTok for law enforcement activities, civil investigations or civil enforcement activities, and research on security practices or security threats without endangering the agency’s network.
- Louisiana (Limited Executive Action) – On December 19, 2022, Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin banned TikTok on all Louisiana Department of State-issued devices and called on Governor John Bel Edwards to ban the use of TikTok on all state-issued devices.
- Maine (Executive Action) – On February 1, 2023, the State of Maine’s Office of Information Technology issued Cybersecurity Directive 2023-01 prohibiting the use of “covered technologies” on any state-issued or personal devices that connect to state equipment or systems. Currently, TikTok is the only named “covered technology” cited in the directive.
- Maryland (Executive Action) – On December 6, 2022, Governor Larry Hogan issued an emergency cybersecurity directive banning state agencies from using specific Chinese and Russian software and platforms providers, including ByteDance, Huawei, ZTE, Alibaba, WeChat, and Kaspersky.
- Mississippi (Executive Action) – On January 13, 2022, Governor Tate Reeves issued a memorandum prohibiting agency employees from downloading or using TikTok on state-owned devices and state networks, with exceptions for bona fide law enforcement, investigative, or public safety purposes.
- Montana (Legislative Action and Executive Action) – On May 22, 2023, the Montana Legislature passed and Governor Greg Gianforte signed SB 419 into law. Unlike other state legislation to restrict or prohibit TikTok exclusively on government devices and networks, SB 419 prohibits all users public and private within the territorial jurisdiction of Montana from operating the TikTok app or downloading it from a mobile app store, such as the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. For each discrete violation of the law, meaning “each time a user accesses TikTok, is offered the ability to access TikTok, or is offered the ability to download to TikTok,” the TikTok corporation and mobile app store are liable for fines of $10,000 per violation and an additional $10,000 each day the violation continues. The law specifically states that penalties do not apply to individual TikTok users and there are exceptions for law enforcement activities, national security interests and activities, security research activities, or essential government uses permitted by the Governor.
Previously, on December 16, 2022, Governor Greg Gianforte issued a memorandum prohibiting state executive agencies, boards, commissions, entities, officials, and employees from downloading or accessing TikTok on state-issued devices or on state networks. This includes third party firms conducting business on behalf of the State of Montana. Exceptions for law enforcement and essential government uses must be reported to the Office of the Governor.
- Nebraska (Executive Action) – In August 2020, Governor Pete Ricketts announced that TikTok will be banned from devices owned by the State of Nebraska.
- Nevada (Executive Action) – On March 6, 2023, Nevada Chief Information Officer Timothy Galluzi and Chief Information Security Officer Bob Dehnhardt issued a memorandum titled “New State Security Standard: System, Application, and Service Blacklisting.” Nevada will now maintain a list of prohibited applications, hardware, and software on state-owned devices, networks, and platforms in accordance with the State Information Security Committee’s standards. The inaugural blacklist published in March 2023 includes the following prohibited products and service providers: Alibaba, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Dahua Technology Company, Grammarly, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, Huawei Technologies, Hytera Communications Corporation, Kaspersky, Pacific Network Corp/ComNet (USA) LLC, Tencent Holdings, TikTok, and ZTE Corporation.
- New Hampshire (Executive Order) – On December 14, 2022, Governor Chris Sununu issued Executive Order 2022-09 prohibiting products from specified vendors from being used on state networks or state-issued devices across the executive branch. Named vendors include Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, Dahua Technology Company, Tencent Holdings (including but not limited to Tencent QQ, QQ Wallet, and WeChat), Alibaba, and TikTok.
- New Jersey (Executive Action) – On January 9, 2023, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness issued a directive to all state departments, agencies, commissions, boards, bodies, full-time and part-time employees, temporary workers, volunteers, interns, and contractors prohibiting the use of specified software vendors, products, and services that present an “unacceptable level of cybersecurity risk.” Named vendors include Huawei Technologies, Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd., Tencent Holdings (including but not limited to WeChat, QQ, QQ Wallet), Alibaba, Hytera, ZTE Corporation, ByteDance, and Kaspersky. The directive includes exceptions upon request for agencies using prohibited software for public health, safety, welfare, or other compelling state business.
- North Carolina (Executive Order) – On January 12, 2023, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 276 directing the North Carolina Chief Information Officer and Department of Information Technology to prohibit the use of TikTok and WeChat on state-issued devices or state IT systems. State agencies may obtain an exception for law enforcement or other “legitimate purposes” pursuant to the DIT.
- North Dakota (Executive Order) – On December 13, 2022, Governor Doug Burgum issued Executive Order 2022-10 prohibiting executive branch agencies and employees from downloading or using TikTok on state-issued equipment or on state networks.
- Ohio (Executive Order) – On January 8, 2023, Governor Mike DeWine issued Executive Order 2023-03D prohibiting all state agencies, boards, and commissions from downloading or using any social media application, channel, or platform that is owned by an entity located in China. Such applications and platforms include but are not limited to: TikTok, Tencent QQ, Tencent Video, QQ International, Qzone, WeChat, Weibo, Xiao HongShu, Zhihu, Meituan, Toutiao, Alipay, Xiami Music, Tiantian Music, DingTalk / Ding Ding, Douban, RenRen, Youku / Tudou, Little Red Book, and Zhihu. The Executive Order is set to expire ten days after Governor DeWine’s last day in office unless rescinded before then.
- Oklahoma (Executive Order) – On December 8, 2022, Governor Kevin Stitt issued Executive Order 2022-33 prohibiting executive branch agencies, employees, and contractors from downloading or using TikTok on state-issued devices or on state networks.
- Pennsylvania (Limited Executive Action) – On December 22, 2022, Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity issued a directive prohibiting TikTok on all Treasury-issued devices and the Treasury’s firewall was updated to block access to the TikTok app and website on its network.
- South Dakota (Executive Order) – On November 29, 2022, Governor Kristi Noem issued Executive Order 2022-10 prohibiting executive branch agencies, employees, and contractors from downloading or using TikTok on state-issued devices or state-owned equipment.
- South Carolina (Executive Action) – On December 5, 2022, Governor Henry McMaster directed the South Carolina Department of Administration to prohibiting TikTok from all state government devices managed by the Department of Administration.
- Tennessee (Legislative Action and Executive Action) – On April 13, 2023, the Tennessee General Assembly passed and Governor Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 834 into law. SB 834 prohibits public universities that provide internet access from allowing students, faculty, staff, or the general public to access a social media platform operated or hosted by a company based in the People’s Republic of China on the university’s network. This restriction does not apply to employees using such a social media platform necessary for law enforcement activities, enforcement, investigative, or public safety purposes. Previously, on December 10, 2022, Governor Bill Lee directed state agencies to take steps to block access to TikTok on any personal or state-owned device that connects to the state’s network.
- Texas (Executive Action) – On December 7, 2022, Governor Greg Abbott directed all state agencies and employees to prohibit downloading or using TikTok on any state-issued devices. Agency heads may grant exceptions for law enforcement investigations and other “legitimate uses” of TikTok on state-issued devices. On January 26, 2023, Governor Abbott released a statewide Model Security Plan for Prohibited Technologies clarifying more details about the restrictions for state personnel and including a new list of prohibited hardware and software vendors, including: TikTok, Kaspersky, ByteDance, Tencent, Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, VMate, WeChat, WeChat Pay, WPS Office, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, Dahua Technology Company, SZ DJI Technology Company, and Hytera Communications Corporation.
- Utah (Executive Order) – On December 12, 2022, Governor Spencer Cox issued Executive Order 2022-06 prohibiting executive branch agencies and employees from downloading or using TikTok on any state devices and agencies may not maintain an agency-branded or agency-sponsored TikTok account. Agency heads may grant exceptions to enable administrative, civil, and criminal law enforcement investigations.
- Vermont (Executive Action) – On February 16, 2023, Vermont Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Shawn Nailor issued Cybersecurity Standard Update 2023-01, which takes the following actions: 1) Prohibits the acquisition or renewal of any contract for Kaspersky-branded products; 2) Prohibits the acquisition or renewal of any contract for equipment manufactured by the following vendors: Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, and Dahua Technology Company; 3) Prohibits the acquisition or renewal of any contract for equipment the U.S. Secretary of Defense has identified as an entity owned or controlled by the government of a covered foreign country pursuant to U.S. Public Law 115-232 Section 889; 4) Prohibits executive branch agencies, employees, and contractors from downloading or using TikTok on any state devices and prohibiting agencies from maintaining an agency-branded TikTok account; 5) Prohibits executive branch agencies, employees, and contractors from downloading or using WeChat or services from Tencent Holdings; 6) Exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Secretary of Digital Services and for law enforcement activities, national security interests and actions, cybersecurity research, and state emergency incident response.
- Virginia (Legislative Action and Executive Order) – On April 12, 2023, the Virginia General Assembly passed and Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Senate Bill 1459 into law. SB 1459 requires Virginia’s Chief Information Officer to restrict the ability to download or use prohibited applications and websites on government-issued devices and government networks for employees, agents, and contractors in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and independent agencies. The Superintendent of State Police or chief law enforcement officer of the appropriate county or city may grant an exception for any law enforcement-related matters. SB 1459 includes the following service providers in its definition of prohibited applications: ByteDance Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd., TikTok, and WeChat. Previously, on December 16, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin issued Executive Order Number 24 (2022) prohibiting executive branch agencies, employees, and contractors from downloading or using TikTok, WeChat, or any other applications developed by ByteDance or Tencent Holdings on state-issued devices or state networks, with an exception for public safety purposes.
- West Virginia (Limited Executive Action) – On December 19, 2022, West Virginia State Auditor JB McCuskey prohibited TikTok on state devices and state networks associated with the Auditor’s Office.
- Wisconsin (Executive Order) – On January 11, 2023, Governor Tony Evers signed Executive Order #184 prohibiting executive branch agencies certain vendors and software on state-issued devices or state networks. The following vendors are prohibited: TikTok, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, Dashua Technology Company, Tencent Holdings, Alibaba, and Kaspersky.
- Wyoming (Executive Action) – On December 15, 2022, Governor Mark Gordon issued a memorandum directing all executive agencies to prohibit the use of TikTok on state-issued devices and state networks, with the possibility to grant exceptions for law enforcement investigations and other uses as needed.