TALLAHASSEE – In the most aggressive legislation Florida has yet passed on the matter, Governor Ron DeSantis has now signed into law a bill which bans the social media app TikTok from government communications devices. The move is the most eye-catching in a broader ‘China crackdown’ move.
The bill in question was SB 258, titled ‘Prohibited Applications on Government-Issued Devices’. It mirrored an executive order DeSantis signed last year which banned TikTok and a slate of other apps from government devices.
Scrutiny against TikTok has grown as paranoia about surveillance by the Chinese Communist Party government has been on the rise in recent years. The app is owned by ByteDance, a China-based tech company which is currently under investigation by the FBI.
China was listed as one country among others whose technology companies should be moderated in Florida; the others were Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela. SB 258 is effective as of July 1st, 2023.
After being filed in February, SB 258 passed the Governmental Oversight & Accountability and Fiscal Policy committees each unanimously, before then passing both chambers of the state legislature, also unanimously. The widespread bipartisan support for the TikTok ban makes the issue one of the most high-profile which both major parties can agree upon in Florida.