Sen. Dodd Introduces High-Risk App Ban for State Devices
SACRAMENTO – With California state government facing unprecedented attacks on information security, Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced legislation today that would ban the downloading and installation of all high-risk social media applications on state-owned or issued devices including cell phones, in part mirroring a federal ban.
“Social media apps are ubiquitous in our daily lives, but there is growing concern about information theft and data collection that comes with their use,” Sen. Dodd said. “Prohibiting these apps on state phones and other devices is a commonsense way to prevent exposure of our sensitive material and the possible tracking or data breaches. Clearly, there are bad actors out there, and we can’t afford to let them in.”
Sen. Dodd’s proposal, Senate Bill 74, comes amid worldwide concern over cybersecurity threats posed by high-risk apps. Last fall, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned TikTok could be used for espionage by a non-democratic government. In response, nearly two dozen states have instituted limits for use of these apps on government-controlled devices. President Joe Biden has since approved a limited TikTok ban on federal devices, and the U.S. House of Representatives banned it on all of its devices. Previously, the U.S. military prohibited its members from using TikTok on government cell phones and computers. India has instituted a nationwide ban on high-risk apps.
Closer to home, the California Office of Emergency Services recently announced the state’s cybersecurity integration center was responding to an incident in the state Department of Finance. Technology news outlets reported a global ransomware group was behind the intrusion and claims to have stolen 76 gigabytes of data.
Senate Bill 74 seeks to prevent additional security breaches through the use of high-risk apps. It is expected to be supported by data and consumer privacy advocates.
“The Consumer Federation of California is concerned that certain apps are engaging in harmful privacy practices that include tracking and sharing of keystrokes, passwords and other personal data, all without a consumer’s knowledge,” said Robert Herrell, the federation’s executive director. “This concern is even greater with state-issued devices, and with consumer data provided to undemocratic governments. CFC welcomes a comprehensive approach to this issue and looks forward to working with Sen. Dodd on a solution that boosts privacy and security.”
Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.