inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

PA Dems Want to Ban TikTok — After They Post One More ‘Lip Syncing Cat’ Video

As the Pennsylvania General Assembly considers a blanket ban on TikTok for government-owned devices, many of the Democratic legislators who support the bill are still sharing Zach King magic tricks and giggling baby videos on the popular platform.

Eleven Pennsylvania Senate Democrats maintain a presence on the app owned by ByteDance, a Chinese-based company with ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Some Democrats, including Montgomery’s Sen. Katie Muth, have accounts without any content. Others cross-post videos from Instagram or Facebook to TikTok.

Then there’s Delaware Valley Democratic Sens. Carolyn Comitta and John Kane.

Both Chester Democrats maintain a heavy presence on TikTok. Comitta has both campaign and Senate TikTok accounts. Both have posted videos from inside their Capitol offices. There’s even a goofy video of Kane walking away from policy positions that he opposes while a comedy sketch criticizing a so-called toxic person plays in the background.

A Kane spokesperson told DVJournal the senator turned to TikTok to connect with younger voters.

“This effort has been enjoyable, exciting, and empowering for many young people who now feel acknowledged by their government and informed about current events,” said Drew Henderson. He promised Kane didn’t use a government-owned device for TikTok. “With numerous colleges and universities in Sen. Kane’s district, we have found TikTok valuable to connect with young constituents, meeting them where they are digitally.”

Despite using the app for messaging, the entire Democrat Senate Caucus voted for Senate Bill 379, the TikTok ban bill. TikTok users are banned from accessing the app from a state-owned wireless network.

The House version of SB 379 went further. It expanded the TikTok ban to include devices and wireless networks owned by local governments and school districts.

“I believe the House amendments make SB 379 stronger by expanding the bill’s scope to include other foreign adversaries hostile to the United States, such as Russia,” Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (R-Montgomery) told DVJournal. She was one of the primary co-sponsors of the original bill. “Apps, like TikTok, present serious security risks, especially when installed on state-owned devices that have direct access to sensitive information. I am optimistic that this bill will pass in the House.”

The bill sits in the House Appropriations Committee.

It received initial support last week in a bipartisan 139-62 vote. Among supporters were 11 Democrats with active TikTok accounts. That includes Appropriations Chair Rep. Jordan Harris of Philadelphia and Delaware County Rep. Jenn O’Mara.

You could say the state legislature was behind with the times on TikTok. Multiple state agencies banned the app years ago.

State Treasurer Stacy Garrity booted TikTok from her department’s devices in late 2022 following an internal review.

“Our ban has been fully effective,” she told DVJournal. “No employees are able to download TikTok onto Treasury devices, and no devices on the Treasury network can access TikTok.”

Other departments with a TikTok ban are state courts, the attorney general’s office, and the auditor general’s office.

And, despite Gov. Josh Shapiro having two active TikTok accounts where he boasts about his “three moods,” state agencies can’t create TikTok accounts or buy ad space on the app.

Shapiro’s office did not respond to a request for comment on SB 379.

Should the bill become law, it would cause ripples throughout the Delaware Valley region. Bucks County uses TikTok to communicate with the public. Delaware County officials said last year that TikTok was still allowed on government-owned phones. Chester County has a ban on TikTok from government phones due to cybersecurity concerns. Montgomery County officials didn’t comment on the county’s TikTok policy.

Pennsylvania’s two Democrat U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman are both active on the platform as is President Joe Biden. Other federal employees can’t use TikTok on their work phones.

A bill that calls for ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban in America passed the U.S. House this month.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Point: Congress Is Right to Call for the Strategic Divestment of TikTok

For a different point of view see: “Counterpoint: Banning TikTok Is a Blow to Free Speech”

The Chinese Communist Party in Beijing is nervous — and it ought to be. The U.S. Congress has targeted a significant tool the CCP uses to spread disinformation among Americans, and the rulers in Beijing are not happy about it. The House has voted to require TikTok to be divested from Chinese ownership, not banned, as its critics charge. This effort will protect free speech, not limit it, as the same, often well-paid, critics claim.

Of course, the tool is TikTok, a popular app that millions of Americans use to promote their companies and reach new audiences. “It’s harmless,” you might say. Only it isn’t. The app is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which is under CCP control. Beijing has an iron grasp over the platform’s algorithm and all user data. Your data. And it is a major U.S. national security risk.

Remember, this is the Chinese government that executed a comprehensive theft of 24 million American government and military officials’ records held by the Office of Personnel Management. It cannot be trusted with access to an even greater number of Americans’ personal data and cannot be trusted to keep from attempting to influence U.S. elections.

It’s a government that, according to respected international human rights organizations, is “waging a targeted campaign against Uyghur women, men and children” and conducting human rights abuses that include “coercive population control methods, forced labor, arbitrary detention in internment camps, torture, physical and sexual abuse, mass surveillance, family separation, and repression of cultural and religious expression.”

Of even greater concern is the disinformation and manipulation campaign that the CCP is already running on the TikTok platform, which could potentially accelerate into a contingency or conflict between the United States and China. A group of Rutgers University researchers have clearly demonstrated that the app promotes CCP interests, and they assess that there is “a strong possibility that content on TikTok is either amplified or suppressed based on its alignment with the interests of the Chinese Government.”

By comparing the volume of TikTok posts with those of Instagram, you can see how access to views on issues such as the invasion of Ukraine and October 7 and its aftermath is manipulated in a way that is helpful to Chinese national security interests. This algorithmic manipulation is even clearer and over-the-top when applied to sensitive political topics in China, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Uighur genocide, and Hong Kong.

Knowing this, lawmakers in Congress passed a bipartisan bill to divest TikTok from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. The legislation now heads to the Senate for action.

Critics of the legislation claim lawmakers want to “ban” TikTok. But it is not a ban. The House legislation calls for divesting TikTok from its Chinese parent company. The bill is a balanced and feasible solution that safeguards innovation, strengthens U.S. national security, protects the Bytedance/TikTok investors, and helps keep private information from being collected by the CCP.

In a nutshell, this divestment ensures that American users can enjoy TikTok for creative expression and to grow and market their businesses — but under new ownership that respects U.S. laws and values.

This is not about stifling speech. It is about keeping China from suppressing free speech. Remember, the Chinese Communist Party has established counterintelligence laws that give it unfettered access to data held by Chinese companies and openly practices its preference for state sovereignty over personal privacy. The CCP does not adhere to core American principles like free speech and assembly.

Divesting TikTok from ByteDance ensures the platform can continue operating in the United States, free from Beijing’s influence and without impeding individual Americans’ right to express themselves.

It’s also good for the U.S. economy. TikTok investors, including American financial services and private equity firms, stand to reap billions should TikTok be acquired by a non-Chinese company. These funds could be reinvested in new technology start-ups or other business ventures. Moreover, divestment, rather than an outright ban, ensures greater competition. Users can expect greater innovation, safer services, and a richer and more diverse social media experience — all while blunting Beijing’s ability to leverage TikTok to undercut fair elections and free speech.

Beijing is not taking this lying down. As Craig Singleton, an expert on Chinese lobbying, has observed, ByteDance has an immense lobbying machine in Washington — and the company is not lobbying for your values. It has a bottomless budget, and it is spreading that cash around to stop the House bill before it gets traction in the Senate.

Congress is right to end Beijing’s efforts to sow political discord in the United States and harvest Americans’ personal data. The House was right to pass the TikTok/ByteDance divestment legislation, as was President Biden in his pledge to sign any such bill that comes to his desk. Now, it’s up to the Senate to protect America from China’s malign influence.

Counterpoint: Banning TikTok Is a Blow to Free Speech

For another point of view see: Point: “Congress Is Right to Call for the Strategic Divestment of TikTok”

The recent move by the House of Representatives to advance legislation forcing ByteDance to divest its ownership of TikTok represents a potentially alarming infringement on our fundamental rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. Despite national security concerns, coercing the divestment of TikTok sets a dangerous precedent that undermines the principles of free expression upon which our republic is built.

While it is undeniable that there are legitimate concerns regarding the security implications of foreign-owned platforms accessing some data of millions of Americans, curtailing access to TikTok based on these concerns constitutes an overreach of governmental authority. The current ban on TikTok on federal devices is a reasonable precaution, but the government restricting access to the platform for the public goes too far (and it is a decision for parents for those under the age of 18.)

Former president Donald Trump’s reversal of his previous advocacy for banning TikTok is simply motivated by fears of Meta (Facebook and Instagram) becoming even more powerful. He has a political point — but not a constitutional one. His recent flip-flop on this issue underscores the political nature of such decisions. However, the motivations behind the legislation should not overshadow the potential erosion of individual liberties and the consequences they entail.

Proponents of the legislation argue that it does not amount to a ban, citing Rep. Mike Gallagher’s assertion that the TikTok user experience can continue and improve if ByteDance no longer owns the company. Yet, the looming threat of a complete ban if ByteDance fails to comply underscores the coercive nature of the proposed measures. They really have no choice based on the threatened consequence.

Moreover, the absence of concrete evidence demonstrating the Chinese Communist Party’s use of TikTok for surveillance or propaganda raises questions about the necessity of such drastic actions. While it is conceivable that Beijing could exploit TikTok for nefarious purposes, it is essential to weigh these potential risks against the broader principles of free speech and individual autonomy.

Put simply, banning TikTok violates of the free speech rights of millions of Americans, especially young people just learning to find their voices and form opinions. This may be why President Biden has indicated support for the banning consequence in the legislation while simultaneously having an account for his campaign on the platform. Hypocritical and political can be synonyms.

While TikTok may not be a beacon of free speech in its home country (or even allowed there), the United States has long prided itself on its commitment to protecting the rights of its citizens to express themselves freely, even when it conflicts with governmental interests.

The use of lawsuits as a means of holding social media companies accountable for violating laws is a more appropriate course of action. However, the protection afforded to these companies under Section 230 shields them from many legal challenges, limiting the effectiveness of this approach. If social media companies were subject to the same legal scrutiny as other entities, they might be more inclined to prioritize the interests of their users over their own corporate agendas.

Let’s open TikTok (and other platforms) to this level of legal scrutiny and see how quickly they clean up their act.  Also, we should consider why so many Americans flock to TikTok.  Maybe Americans like TikTok because it has been freer and easier than U.S. Big Tech failing attempts. Maybe Big Tech, with all their money, should just build better free speech applications and get out of the speech police business and, especially, politics.

Furthermore, the potential for government overreach in restricting access to social media platforms sets a dangerous precedent. Granting authorities the power to ban or control speech based on vague notions of national security could pave the way for future censorship and suppression of dissenting voices. It is imperative that we uphold the principles of free speech and individual liberty, even in the face of legitimate security concerns. It seems like well-paid, Big Tech lobbyists have convinced many in the House of Representatives that control of social media needs to reside with the same old incumbent players.

Ultimately, the debate surrounding TikTok’s ownership and access underscores the complex interplay between national security concerns, individual freedoms, and corporate responsibility. While it is essential to address legitimate security threats posed by foreign-owned platforms, any measures taken must be carefully balanced against the broader principles of free speech and due process. It makes no sense to “ban” when transparency continues to be such a major problem throughout U.S. politics.

While the concerns raised by proponents of legislation targeting TikTok are not without merit, the proposed solutions risk undermining the very freedoms they purport to protect. Rather than resorting to bans and coercive measures, policymakers should seek more nuanced approaches that safeguard national security and individual liberties. Failure to do so risks setting a dangerous precedent that threatens the fabric of our democracy.

FLOWERS: Generation With Pronoun Fixation Now Admires Bin Laden

The latest TikTok dustup made me realize that the newest iteration of an alphabet generation–I think it’s now up to Z, although given the acronym for sexual minorities and how that expanded beyond LGBT, we could be out of Aramaic characters–are not serious people. They are ignorant of history, preoccupied with irrelevant things like pronouns and however many “spirits” they have, and are just incredibly annoying.

Before I really get into it, a caveat: I am four decades removed from those halcyon years when you don’t need to pay for your rent, your food, your tuition, or the consequences of your actions. I myself was a rather tame young woman who could run for political office without worrying that some scandal of her past would frustrate those efforts. The worst thing I ever did was kick a horse after bucking and throwing me onto the very hard soil of northern Montgomery County. Believe me, Bluebell deserved it.

So perhaps I am not objective when I say that the vast majority of these kids are pampered and pretentious little darlings who play at human rights activism in the same way they used to play with their Barbie dolls: It’s a diversion, more than anything else. And when they are actually presented with a true human rights crisis, they can’t understand why anyone would disagree with their take on the topic.

Which brings me back to TikTok. The intrepid independent journalist Yashar Ali shed light on a bizarre phenomenon that started in the past few days, only weeks after a group of bloodthirsty Palestinian terrorists massacred 1,200 innocent Jews in cold blood. We’ve already seen how some of these Gen Z darlings have screamed out their antisemitism through the streets of large cities, showing solidarity with Hamas when they weren’t ripping down the posters of missing, kidnapped Israeli babies.

We’ve read the letters that they have signed onto, pledging support for the erasure of Israel and the annihilation of its inhabitants “from the river to the sea.” We have even seen them suggest that Israel is lying about how many people were killed and that this was just some psyops to allow it to commit a “genocide” against the Palestinians in Gaza.

But what Yashar Ali uncovered is even worse than these repellent displays of inhumanity. There is now a trend on TikTok of American youth urging their comrades to read Osama Bin Laden’s “Letter to America” because they find it both elucidating and wise. We are talking about the same Bin Laden who orchestrated the massacre of 3,000 Americans on 9/11. It is true that most of these kids were either infants or weren’t even born when the Twin Towers came down almost a quarter century ago.

But that is absolutely irrelevant. I was born exactly 20 years, minus three days after Pearl Harbor, and I understand everything that happened, every aspect of the attack by Japan, every reason why we were pulled into World War II, and even why it was necessary to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I know all of this because I studied history, a history that is apparently no longer taught in some schools.

These children, who find value in Bin Laden’s words, would be laughable if this weren’t such a horrific commentary on the quality of those who will lead us into the future. They absorb the hateful rhetoric of an Islamist who despised the United States because it somehow validates their hatred of Israel, their innate antisemitism, and their disgust with their native land.

And instead of understanding that Bin Laden would have strangled the breath out of anyone who actually used “pronouns” and raised that increasingly mottled rainbow flag, they think he has lessons to teach and accomplishments to emulate.

To say that I am disgusted with these children is an understatement. I passed “bemusement” a long time ago, well before 1,200 Jews were assassinated simply because of who they were. I mocked the trans activists who whimpered and whined about the cruelty of a world that didn’t understand their viscous form of “gender fluidity.” I laughed.

But I’m not laughing now. I am repelled and disgusted, and I truly hope that him/his and she/her figure out what the hell is going on before they find themselves on the wrong side of a genocide.

Casey, Fetterman Still On TikTok, Despite Spying Concerns

Time may be TikToking away for TikTok and the Americans who use it.

On Friday, six more U.S. Senators signed on as sponsors of the Restricting the Emergence of Security Threats that Risk Information and Communications Technology (RESTRICT) Act, bipartisan legislation giving President Joe Biden new powers to ban the Chinese-owned app. Now 18 senators are on board, and the Biden administration has endorsed the effort.

Not on the list of sponsors: Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman. They are, however, on a recently-compiled list of a handful of members of Congress with TikTok accounts.

Both accounts were still active as of Sunday night. Neither senator responded to repeated requests for comment about their decision to remain on the controversial — and Communist-owned — video app.

The issue of TikTok giving China’s government access to data on U.S. citizens isn’t new. President Donald Trump tried to ban the app in 2020 but was blocked by the courts. Late last year, Biden signed an order banning the app from nearly all federal government devices.

The social media platform that is very popular with teenagers is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. ByteDance had admitted that some employees had filched Americans’ information, The New York Times reported. But the parent company claimed those workers were fired.

Biden is demanding ByteDance sell TikTok. And the Biden Justice Department is investigating whether the Chinese-made app is spying on some of the journalists who cover the tech industry.

More and more Pennsylvania government entities are banning the app, including Chester County and Bucks County, which just filed a lawsuit against it for harming children’s mental health. In state government, Treasurer Stacy Garrity banned it on state devices her department controls. However, Gov. Josh Shapiro has a campaign account. At the same time, however, Shapiro was investigating TikTok as attorney general for its impact on youth.

A January 2023 review by States News Service confirmed 32 of the 535 members of Congress had TikTok accounts, including Casey, Fetterman, and local Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks)

Contacted by DVJournal, a Houlahan spokesperson confirmed, “Her account still exists, but it is not active, and it is not on any House-issued devices.”

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is scheduled to testify before Congress on Thursday. According to reports, he plans to argue that the app, which has about 150 million regular users in the U.S. — or about 45 percent of the population — is too deeply enmeshed in the nation’s social media to be banned.

A TikTok spokesperson recently sent DVJournal this statement: “The ban of TikTok on federal devices was passed in December without any deliberation, and unfortunately, that approach has served as a blueprint for other world governments. These bans are little more than political theater. We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government devices, Congress will explore solutions that won’t have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans.

“The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years. These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies, and we are well underway in implementing them to further secure our platform in the United States.”

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Bucks County Sues Social Media Companies Over Harm to Kids

Bucks County officials filed a class action late Tuesday over the harm they claim Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube are inflicting on kids. The move makes Bucks the first county government entity in the nation to file that kind of litigation.

“It’s very personal to me,” said Solicitor Joseph Kahn, who noted he is also a parent. “What this lawsuit addresses is a mental health crisis that severely impacts children everywhere, particularly in Bucks County. Like parents everywhere, I have been wondering, what am I going to do about this?”

Kahn was joined by Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub, Commissioners Chair Robert Harvie, and Commissioners Diane Marseglia and Gene DiGirolamo.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco claims, “Youth mental health problems have advanced in lockstep with the growth of social media platforms deliberately designed to attract and addict youth to the platforms by amplifying harmful material, dosing users with dopamine hits, and thereby driving youth engagement and advertising revenue.

“Defendants Facebook, Instagram, Snap, TikTok, and YouTube all design, market, promote, and operate social media platforms for which they have especially cultivated a young audience. They have successfully grown their platforms exponentially over the past decade, from millions to billions of users, particularly children, and teens.”

And those young people have suffered, the lawsuit alleges, raising costs for county taxpayers who pay for their mental health and other services.

“Bucks County residents have borne painful witness to all of this, firsthand, to devastating effect,” the lawsuit says. “For instance, in October 2022, a 15-year-old boy in Bucks County was arrested after threatening to ‘shoot up’ Central Bucks High School West via a Snapchat message. The boy also used TikTok to share videos of other mass shootings.”

Meta, the parent company for Facebook and Instagram, released a statement touting its efforts at promoting responsible social media use.

“We want teens to be safe online,” said Meta’s Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis. “We’ve developed more than 30 tools to support teens and families, including supervision tools that let parents limit the amount of time their teens spend on Instagram, and age verification technology that helps teens have age-appropriate experiences.

“We don’t allow content that promotes suicide, self-harm, or eating disorders, and of the content we remove or take action on, we identify over 99 percent of it before it’s reported to us. We’ll continue to work closely with experts, policymakers, and parents on these important issues.”

Not good enough, Bucks County officials say, pointing to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing a surge in depression and suicidal thoughts among American teens between 2011 and 2021. That coincided with the explosion of social media use by teens.

“A Pew Research Study found that almost half of U.S. teenagers aged 13 to 17 say they are online ‘almost constantly,'” the lawsuit reads.

The county is asking for monetary damages and an injunction against the social media companies, officials told DVJournal during Wednesday’s press conference.

The county has a long history of providing mental health services to children and teenagers paid for by taxpayers. The lawsuit asks the court to make the social media companies pay, Kahn explained, adding the companies violate Pennsylvania’s fair trade practices law.

Bucks County isn’t the only government entity to sue social media companies over the alleged harm their products inflict on users. The Seattle public school system is suing several large social media companies. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox has announced plans to sue as well.

Given the extremely deep pockets of social media companies like Facebook and YouTube, what chance does Bucks County have of winning this suit?

Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub said, “I do liken it to a David versus Goliath situation, where we’re David. We’re taking on these enormous companies…They’ve not only taken advantage of our children, but they’ve preyed on our children.”

The mental health agencies have a “literal and figurative line out the door,” said Weintraub. “And it’s filled with our young people. We intend to win. We intend to stake our claim.”

Villanova law Professor and Vice Dean Michael Risch said the David vs. Goliath comparison is overly optimistic.

“David at least had the stone, right? But this David has nothing. The sling is empty,” Risch told DVJournal.

Risch pointed to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act which protects internet providers from just this sort of liability for the content that third parties post on their sites. A case recently heard by the U.S. Supreme Court claimed that Google is liable for terrorist videos, and the high court appeared unlikely to rule against the search site, he said.

“Here’s something one of your friends posted,” said Risch. “These are not terrorist videos. So, even if Google were to lose in the Supreme Court, it’s unclear whether the behavior of the tech companies is similar to serving up recruitment videos for terrorists because it’s harmful to kids to see other kids primping and doing whatever else they do.”

“This, by the way, is completely accepting these sites are harmful,” he added.

But if the case is allowed to progress, regardless of the final outcome, it could still be problematic for the social media giants.

“I can’t wait to begin discovery,” said Commissioner DiGirolamo. “Where we dig into the emails of the people who work for these companies. They knew what they were doing. ‘Not harmful and not addictive.’ Where have we heard that before? We heard it from the drug companies for many, many years. And (they) pushed these drugs on society.

“I think we’re going to find out these social media platforms knew exactly what they were doing and were preying on our young people. And we’d like to put an end to it, and we’d like to hold them accountable.”

A spokesman for TikTok said he could not comment on litigation but noted the company has various safeguards for underage users including limits on screen time.  Snapchat did not respond to a request for comment.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

PA Sens. Casey, Fetterman Have TikTok Despite White House Ban

The Biden administration issued an order Monday giving federal agencies 30 days to remove the Chinese-owned TikTok app from official government devices. The action was ordered by Congress late last year and, according to Reuters, is being taken “in a bid to keep U.S. data safe.”

But those concerns apparently haven’t reached the Pennsylvania congressional delegation where at least three members still have TikTok accounts.

As of Tuesday, Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman still had active TikTok accounts, as did Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks).

review by States Newsroom in January found just 32 members of Congress, including seven senators, had TikTok accounts. Sens. Casey and Fetterman were two of them. Indeed, Fetterman joined TikTok last summer, long after the company’s problematic policies were well known.

TikTok has long been singled out for the app’s aggressive data collection, data that under Chinese law is accessible by the Communist Party regime that governs the nation. In addition to the data you give TikTok, the app also tracks what non-TikTok sites users visit, other apps you use, what you record using your phone camera and mic, and what content you watch using your phone, according to The Washington Post.

And while the parent company, ByteDance, says it keeps its U.S. data secure, “it’s still compelled to comply with requests for user data under Chinese law,” the Post notes.

In August 2020, former President Donald Trump issued an executive order banning new downloads of TikTok in the U.S. But it was never enacted and President Joe Biden rescinded the order when he took office.

Concerns about China’s espionage policies came to the fore when the public discovered the Biden administration was allowing a Chinese spy balloon to traverse the U.S. uninterrupted. Biden ordered the balloon shot down over the Atlantic Ocean off the South Carolina coast.

“The ban of TikTok on federal devices was passed in December without any deliberation, and unfortunately that approach has served as a blueprint for other world governments,” said a TikTok spokeswoman.

“These bans are little more than political theater. We hope that when it comes to addressing national security concerns about TikTok beyond government devices, Congress will explore solutions that won’t have the effect of censoring the voices of millions of Americans.

“The swiftest and most thorough way to address any national security concerns about TikTok is for CFIUS to adopt the proposed agreement that we worked with them on for nearly two years. These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies, and we are well underway in implementing them to further secure our platform in the United States,” she said.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or

Despite Ties to China, Both PA U.S. Senators Use TikTok

If you catch a member of the U.S. Senate watching middle-school teachers doing a dance routine from the musical “Cats” on TikTok, there is a very good chance that lawmaker is from Pennsylvania.

A review by States Newsroom found just 32 members of Congress, including seven senators, have TikTok accounts. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman are two of them. The Delaware Valley’s own Rep. Chrissy Houlahan is also on the list.

“While there are no laws in place banning lawmakers from using the app on their personal devices, cybersecurity experts have raised concerns over data collection for those members who deal with sensitive government topics,” the news service reported.

TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, over which China’s Communist regime has direct control. Chinese laws mandate companies doing business in that nation must make data available to the government.

TikTok has also been cited as one of the most invasive apps in wide use, sucking up personal data from devices unrelated to the funny dance videos and other content on the app. It can collect user contact lists, access calendars, even scan hard drives — including external ones.

And despite claims from ByteDance that American customers have nothing to worry about, a recent report from Buzzfeed News revealed leaked audio from TikTok meetings showed U.S. user data had been repeatedly accessed from China.

As a result, federal and state agencies have banned the app from government devices.

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced last month TikTok has been banned from all of her department-issued devices.

“Treasury’s computer network is targeted by scammers and criminals every day,” Garrity said. “TikTok presents a clear danger due to its collection of personal data and its close connection to the communist Chinese government.”

Even the U.S. Senate, where Casey and Fetterman serve, unanimously passed the No TikTok on Government Devices Act banning the app from government devices. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wants to ban TikTok entirely.

“[TikTok] is China’s backdoor into Americans’ lives. It threatens our children’s privacy as well as their mental health,” Hawley tweeted on Tuesday. “Last month Congress banned it on all government devices. Now I will introduce legislation to ban it nationwide.”

The question for Casey and Fetterman is whether they use TikTok on the same devices they use for official business such as emails, spreadsheets, texts, etc. It is a question both senators declined to answer.

They also didn’t address the national security concerns raised by FBI Director Chris Wray, concerns that inspired the State Department, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security to ban the app from federal agency devices.

Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers is a national security expert who chaired the House Intelligence Committee. He said the question of whether members of Congress should be using TikTok “is black and white.”

“Any government official who is on TikTok should immediately delete their account,” Rogers told Delaware Valley Journal. “Anything on that device is vulnerable to Chinese software, which could have a long tail of consequences. This isn’t a matter of a fun app on which you can scroll. It’s irresponsible to the constituents these elected officials took an oath to serve. Our national security is at stake.”

PA Treasurer Garrity Bans TikTok from Treasury-Issued Devices

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity announced Thursday that the social media app TikTok, which the head of the FBI recently called a national security concern, has been banned from all of her department-issued devices. TikTok is owned by ByteDance and is based in Beijing.

“Treasury’s computer network is targeted by scammers and criminals every day,” Garrity said. “TikTok presents a clear danger due to its collection of personal data and its close connection to the communist Chinese government. Banning TikTok from Treasury devices and systems is an important step in our never-ending work to ensure the safety of Pennsylvanians’ hard-earned tax dollars and other important, sensitive information entrusted to Treasury.”

This month, Treasury conducted an internal security review and determined that TikTok had not been used on any Treasury-issued devices. In addition to Garrity’s ban, which covers phones, laptops, and desktop computers, Treasury’s firewall has been updated to block access to both the TikTok app and its corresponding website from the Treasury network.

Also, Congress is poised to ban federal employees from using TikTok on government devices, and many states – including Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia – have banned the app. It has been prohibited by Florida’s Department of Financial Services, Louisiana’s Department of State, and the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office. The Indiana Attorney General has filed two lawsuits against TikTok.

TikTok spokesman Jamal Brown said, “We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok. TikTok is loved by millions of Americans, and it is unfortunate that the many state agencies, offices, universities, student groups, and sports teams in those states will no longer be able to use TikTok to build communities and share information.

“We are continuing to work with the federal government to finalize a solution that will meaningfully address any security concerns that have been raised at the federal and state level. These plans have been developed under the oversight of our country’s top national security agencies—plans that we are well underway in implementing—to further secure our platform in the United States, and we will continue to brief lawmakers on them,” Brown said.

Before joining TikTok in November, Brown formerly worked for President Joe Biden’s campaign and then the Pentagon.

Former President Donald Trump had similar concerns about TikTok security and banned the video app by executive order in 2020. However, Biden, who reversed most of Trump’s executive orders when he took office, revoked the TikTok ban, too.

Mike Caputo, who served as a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department in the Trump administration said, “Chinese TikTok is clearly a national security threat when it’s downloaded on government devices. Even more dangerous is the kind of federal bureaucrat who is stupid enough to download any Chinese app at all – imagine all the other foolish decisions they’re making.”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or