HALL MONITOR: “YES” on Removing High Risk Apps from Government Networks and Devices in North Carolina (SB 83)

Name: North Carolina SB 83, No High Risk Apps from Government Networks and Devices

Summary: Prohibits the use of apps deemed as high security risks (i.e. Tiktok) from being used on publicly administered networks and devices, including in public schools.

Status: Passed Senate, in House Committee on Rules, Calendar, and Operations.

Bill Sponsor: Sen. Timothy Moffitt, Sen. Jim Perry, and Sen. Bobby Hanig are the primary sponsors. Sen. Moffitt has represented District 48 since 2023, Sen. Perry, the Senate Majority Whip, has represented District 2 since 2023 after representing District 7 from 2019-2022, and Sen. Bobby Hanig, a U.S. Army veteran, has represented District 3 since 2023.

A sponsor is a legislator who presents a bill to the legislature to be considered for a vote

Bill Breakdown: 

SB 83 prohibits apps deemed to have a high security risk from public devices and networks. It identifies Tiktok (and any other app or service created by Tiktok’s parent company ByteDance Limited), WeChat, (any other app or service created by WeChat’s parent company Tencent Holdings Limited), and Telegram (any other app or service created by Telegram’s parent company Telegram FZ LLC) as high-risk apps. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper banned Tiktok and WeChat from state-owned devices via executive order in January 2023, and this bill codifies that executive order. 

The bill prohibits downloads of the apps on devices owned by the state government, including on computers or other electronic devices owned by schools for student use. It also prohibits the use of the platform on networks run by a public agency, including public schools. The bill also requires public agencies to report annually the number of attempted accesses of the prohibited platforms on their networks.

Why did PDE Action support this bill? 

Both Tiktok and WeChat have raised national security and data privacy concerns due to their data collection methods and affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party, and have previously been banned on federal government devices, across many states, and in several countries. Telegram has also raised security concerns as it is a favored platform for terrorist groups, especially in Iran and Russia. 

PDE Action’s partner organization, Parents Defending Education, recently published a report detailing CCP funding, curriculum, and student data access in K-12 classrooms, and PDE Action has urged Congress and state governors to act swiftly in protecting students from harmful influence from foreign adversaries. It is imperative that these protections extend to the data privacy and content consumption of students within schools. 

Additionally, as mentioned in PDE Action’s recent endorsement of the “Eyes on the Board Act” in Congress, PDE Action recognizes the dangers that overuse of social media can pose for the mental health and academic performance of students.