Agencies issue rule to ban TikTok on contractor devices 

The interim rule, released Friday, would insert contract solicitation language to ban TikTok from contractor and employee BYOD devices.

The interim rule, released Friday, would insert contract solicitation language to ban TikTok from contractor and employee BYOD devices. Matt Cardy / Getty Images

The interim rule amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation to include a ban on the use of TikTok by government contractors and vendors. 

Three federal agencies released an interim rule on Friday expanding the government’s ban on popular video app TikTok to future contract solicitations, capping efforts by Congress and the Office of Management and Budget to limit the app’s use across the government over national security concerns.

The rule — issued by the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and NASA — amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation “to implement the prohibition on having or using the social networking service TikTok or any successor application or service developed or provided by ByteDance Limited or an entity owned by ByteDance Limited.”

Contracting officers are directed to include the prohibition on TikTok “in solicitations issued on or after June 2.” Contract solicitations issued before the rule’s effective date, but scheduled to be awarded after June 2, must be amended by July 3 to comply with the new rule. 

The rule specifies that the ban on TikTok and other ByteDance-developed services “applies to devices regardless of whether the device is owned by the government, the contractor or the contractor's employees,” including “employee-owned devices that are used as part of an employer bring your own device program.” Personally-owned mobile devices that are not used “in the performance of the contract” are exempted from the ban.

Legislation banning TikTok on government devices was included in the omnibus spending bill that was signed into law by President Joe Biden in December. The provision called for the Office of Management and Budget to “develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal of any covered application from information technology,” which the agency released in February.

OMB’s Feb. 27-dated guidance gave federal agencies 30 days to remove the app from “IT owned or operated by agencies.” The memo also directed agencies to ensure that their vendor contracts do not include the use of TikTok within 90 days, and required agencies to prohibit the use of the app in contract solicitations within 120 days. 

Federal officials and lawmakers have warned in recent years about the ties between Chinese company ByteDance — which owns TikTok — and Beijing, outlining concerns about the potential for the Chinese government to access users’ personal data. 

Friday’s rule referred to the government’s TikTok ban as “a national security measure to protect government information and information and communication technology systems.” 

Other U.S. allies — including France, the United Kingdom and Australia — have also banned the app from government devices, citing similar security concerns. 

Congressional lawmakers have introduced a range of bills in recent months that would further restrict or ban the app’s use across the U.S., including legislation introduced by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., earlier this week that would require online app stores to prominently label digital services, like TikTok, that have ties to adversarial governments.