MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday he is now considering banning TikTok on the state-owned phones of state employees.
Republican members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation called on Evers earlier this month to ban the app, citing their concerns that the Chinese government could use TikTok to spy on users and spread propaganda. In an omnibus spending bill, lawmakers proposed banning the app on government devices, the Associated Press previously reported.
Evers told news media in Madison Thursday that he is still in conversations with the FBI and state emergency management. He said they are "close to a decision."
According to Evers, between 10-20 people may be using TikTok on state devices, out of thousands of state of Wisconsin employees.
"We are close to making a decision. And we are continuing our conversations with those two institutions," Evers said, in reference to the FBI and emergency management.
Evers said the same thing a week ago. But Evers also said on Dec. 21 that there were no plans at the time to ban TikTok on state employees' phones. He described it then as "monitoring."
At least 14 governors in other states have ordered state employees not to use TikTok on government devices.
In 2020, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to ban TikTok, but it never passed the House. Other bills to regulate or ban TikTok and other apps are also pending in Congress. The U.S. armed forces have prohibited the app on military devices.
Critics say they fear the Chinese government is gaining access to critical information through the application and could be using it to spread misinformation or propaganda. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Chinese company.
While there has been much debate about whether the Chinese government is actively collecting data from the app, TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas, based in Los Angeles, has said the company protects all American users’ data and that Chinese government officials have no access to it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.