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Scott Oelslager: Why it's important to keep TikTok off government devices

Published By Canton Repository on July 9, 2023
Scott Oelslager In The News

Over the past few weeks, the Ohio House of Representatives has passed numerous pieces of important legislation ranging from requiring AEDs in Ohio schools to indexing the homestead exemption to inflation in order to protect seniors and disabled veterans.

One bill that I am particularly passionate about is House Bill 17, which came on the heels of previously issued federal and state executive orders.

Earlier this year, President Biden issued an order prohibiting TikTok from being downloaded or used on government devices. Soon after, Gov. Mike DeWine issued a similar executive order, which was well-received by both Republicans and Democrats.

There is a bipartisan agreement that there are too many unknowns about cybersecurity and risks of foreign-controlled programs like TikTok to allow their usage on state devices.

House Bill 17 will prohibit the download, installation, and use of any applications or services owned by an entity located in China, including TikTok and WeChat, on government devices. This bill is a measure to safeguard our state’s sensitive private information by keeping access to the data stored on them out of foreign hands.

It’s important Ohioans understand that the bill does not prohibit the use of TikTok or other Chinese-based applications on their personal devices. Moreover, it protects our sensitive state data, and by extension, our citizens, from potential breaches by foreign actors.

Cybersecurity is an issue that will only continue to grow in the future. According to a 2022 FBI report, Ohio was ranked No. 7 in the country for the total number of cyberattack victims in 2021; 17,510 Ohioans experienced a cyberattack in 2021 and the number continues to rapidly increase.

Cybersecurity on government devices is necessary to protect sensitive information that could compromise our government and ultimately, all Ohioans. An investment in cybersecurity measures is an investment into the safety of our state and its residents.

After passing out of the Ohio House Technology and Innovation Committee and the Ohio House as a whole with sweeping favorable votes, I look forward to watching House Bill 17 continue to move through the Ohio Senate. As legislators, we have the great responsibility of diving into these issues and taking steps to protect our great state.

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