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Denver government to ban TikTok from city-owned devices

The city cited cybersecurity concerns in its decision to ban the popular Chinese-owned app from government devices.

DENVER — The City and County of Denver will soon prohibit its employees from downloading TikTok onto city-owned devices, citing cybersecurity concerns.

Ashley Bolton, the city's chief data and information security officer, said they made the move after performing a risk assessment of the popular Chinese-owned app.  

Bolton said the app can capture data, such as passwords or personally identifiable information, and the city has no way of guaranteeing the information won't be improperly kept on servers in China.

"If you just look at a risk versus reward, we thought the risk outweighed any reward,” she said. 

Starting Thursday, city employees will not be able to download TikTok from an app store onto a city-owned device. If the app is already on a device, it will be deleted. The city banned TikTok's website on Jan. 11.

U.S. officials are in private talks about the fate of TikTok, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance. FBI Director Christopher Wray in December raised national security alarms about the company, saying China could use the app to collect data on its users and has the ability to control the app's recommendation algorithm to show users biased videos that could be geopolitically more favorable to China. TikTok said it is working to address those concerns.

"The security of the data our community entrusts us with is a top priority at TikTok, despite recent reports questioning that commitment," a TikTok official said in a statement posted when similar concerns were raised last year.

Colorado-based cybersecurity expert John Sileo said the data TikTok collects is not any different from the information collected by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but because TikTok's parent company is based in China, it is subject to Chinese laws that could require it to turn over data on its users to the Chinese government.

The issue has drawn attention from Colorado politicians on both sides of the aisle. Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet recently called for Apple and Google to remove it from their app stores. Republican Rep. Ken Buck proposed legislation to ban TikTok nationwide. A measure he co-sponsored to ban the app from federal government devices passed late last year.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report. 



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