All but one member of the Aurora City Council voted Monday to ban TikTok from being downloaded to or accessed by city devices.
Council member Alison Coombs cast the lone “no” vote. She said the resolution reeked of politics.
Coombs sponsored an amendment that would have removed references to the People’s Republic of China and Community Party. The amendment still banned TikTok.
Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Gardner said the way the amendment was written, apps like Facebook and Twitter could be banned, too. The amendment failed along party lines, however, with Democrat members Coombs, Crystal Murillo, Juan Marcano and Ruben Medina voting yes.
Argument over politics ‘tired,’ Zvonek says
“The tired suggestion that this is partisan is so detached from reality,” said council member Dustin Zvonek, sponsor of the ban. Coombs shot back that she referenced politics, not partisanship. She wondered how a ban on anything related to the Proud Boys would go over. “It sets a precedent that were making our security policy based on politics.”
According to the resolution, TikTok, Douyin, WeChat, Weixin, and websites developed by ByteDance Ltd. and Tencent Holding Ltd., are platforms affiliated with the People’s Republic of China. ”TikTok and WeChat are owned by ByteDance Ltd., a Chinese company that employs Chinese Communist Party members,” the resolution reads.
China spies on its own citizens, resolution argues
The resolution also states:
· “China has a history of amassing large amounts of data on their own citizens and those around the world including individuals in the United States.
· “It is critical that the City of Aurora and its networks are protected from the vulnerabilities presented by the use of these platforms.
· “These platforms and websites harvest significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity even when the platforms are not in use.
· “These platforms and websites can also harvest significant amounts of data from the city’s networks.
· “This data can reveal sensitive information that can be leveraged or exploited against
‘Millions of Chinese spy balloons’
Zvonek said the apps are like “millions of Chinese spy balloons” in everyone’s homes. The federal government is considering a similar law.
“Concerns around TikTok’s security risk come down to two main issues. The first is who can access U.S. consumer information and the second is who has the ability to determine what information reaches U.S. users,” according to CNBC. “Under Chinese law, companies can be required to hand over internal information to the government for supposed national security purposes. TikTok has sought to reassure the U.S. government that U.S. user data is stored outside of China.”
Aurora may allow use of the apps under special circumstances. "If a city department has a valid reason to access these platforms, the department will need to request approval for that use through the Information Security Office (ISO)," according to the resolution. "That request must be limited to a small number of end user devices to have access to these platforms. Once approved by the ISO it must then be sent to the city manager for approval."
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