Florida Governor DeSantis eyes TikTok, China’s access to personal data

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TALAHASSEE — Highlighting security issues foreign companies like TikTok, Governor Ron DeSantis wants to prevent those with ties to “foreign countries of concern,” including China, Iran, Russia and Cuba, from doing business with Florida governments that could give them access to the personal information of millions of Floridians.

He unveiled several legislative proposals Thursday at a press conference in Miami, where he also announced the signing an executive order to prevent local and state governments in Florida from purchasing technology products and services from companies with ties to those same countries or “other types of regimes hostile to U.S. interests.”

“One of the things that [Chinese Communist Party] likes to do is use technology to advance and that includes trying to get personal information about Americans,” he said, noting TikTok’s popularity among millions of young Americans.

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“They accumulate a lot of data,” he said. “It’s a huge national security risk.”

TikTok is second only to Google in terms of online popularity

TikTok is the second most popular domain in the world, according to online performance and security firm Cloudflare, surpassed only by Google. It is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company, and has around 1 billion monthly users.

TikTok’s rise in popularity has drawn the attention of a host of state officials and federal lawmakers, some of whom have expressed concerns about its data privacy and security.

Last week, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing in Washington to explore the impact of its social media on national security. TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas testified alongside representatives from YouTube, Twitter and Meta, which owns Instagram and Facebook.

Pappas told the committee that employees outside the United States, including employees based in China, can access U.S. TikTok user data, but is “subject to a series of robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team.”

DeSantis said his executive order will “prevent the exposure of Floridians’ personal information and technology systems” to “foreign entities and bad actors.”

“The last thing we want to see is [Chinese Communist Party] get their mitts on people’s personal information,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis wants to limit donations to Florida universities, buy land and houses

One of his legislative proposals would prohibit Florida governments from entering into contracts with any company — with ties to a hostile foreign government — that seeks personal data. He mentioned social security numbers, bank account information, medical records and other documents that “shouldn’t be in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

It also wants to ban gifts to Florida universities from anyone or companies linked to its list of hostile foreign governments.

DeSantis said the new legislation would also seek to prevent individuals or companies with ties to China and other “countries of concern” from buying farmland in Florida as well as land near the 21 military bases in the state. ‘State.

Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference with House Speaker Chris Sprows and other lawmakers on combating foreign interference in Florida colleges and universities, with a focus on preventing China and other countries from stealing intellectual property on Capitol Hill on Monday, March 1.  2021.

The National Association of Estate Agents published a report this summer that revealed that Chinese investors were among the biggest buyers of real estate in the United States, spending $6.1 billion on homes between April 2021 and March 2022, with Florida at the top of their shopping list.

Asked about the NAR report, DeSantis told Fox News host Laura Ingraham in July that “it’s a huge deal.”

“I don’t think they should be able to do that,” DeSantis said. “I think the problem is that these companies have ties to the CCP, and it’s not always apparent from what a company does.”

This isn’t the first time DeSantis has targeted legislation at “hostile” foreign countries. Last yearhe signed bills aimed at combating industrial espionage and preventing foreign influence on higher education and government institutions.

Contribute: The Associated Press

USA Today Network-Florida government accountability reporter Douglas Soule is based in Tallahassee, Florida. He can be contacted at [email protected] Twitter: @DouglasSoule

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