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Kentucky lawmakers advance bill to ban TikTok from government-issued devices

Ryland Barton

A bill banning the video-sharing app TikTok on Kentucky government-issued devices or networks passed through a state senate committee on Wednesday.

Lawmakers voted unanimously to pass Senate Bill 20 to a full Senate vote. House Bill 124, a similar bill banning the app, has been introduced to the House. If both bills pass the ban on state-issued devices would become law. The law would not apply to the personal use on private devices in the Commonwealth.

Consideration of the measure comes after Gov. Andy Beshear banned TikTok on state-owned devices in the executive branch last month and follows a growing number of states that have banned the app, including Ohio, Indiana, and Tennessee.

Senator Robby Mills of Henderson, a cosponsor of Senate Bill 20, said banning the app would provide protection on state-owned devices.

“We need to protect the data that exists on our state devices and one very practical way, in my opinion, to do this is to remove a known data mining app from all state of Kentucky digital devices as this bill will do,” Mills said.

The app has faced controversies over security concerns that ByteDance, the China-based company behind TikTok, is sharing user data with the Chinese government. U.S. Congress passed legislation earlier this year, banning the app on federal devices and networks because of the potential national security risks.

Senator Robby Mills said banning the app on state-issued devices reflects the safest protocols according to federal agencies.

“It’s been reported by multiple news sources that TikTok mines huge amounts of private data which the Chinese government, a foreign adversary of the United States, would have access to,” Mills said. “Recently the FBI has been quoted as saying, ‘The video sharing app TikTok poses a national security concern.”

Jacob Martin is a Reporter at WKU Public Radio. He joined the newsroom from Kansas City, where he covered the city’s underserved communities and general assignments at NPR member station, KCUR. A Louisville native, he spent seven years living in Brooklyn, New York before moving back to Kentucky. Email him at