Three major federal agencies on Friday issued an interim rule to implement a controversial ban on the use of TikTok on the devices of government employees and contractors.
The Department of Defense (DOD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) issued the interim rule for implementation of the No TikTok on Government Devices Act applicable to any contract solicitations the agencies issue on or after June 2.
“The rule revises the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 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 (“covered application”),” the rule titled ‘Federal Acquisition Regulation: Prohibition on a ByteDance Covered Application’ says in the Federal Register.
All contract solicitations issued before June 2 but awarded after that date must amend their solicitation to comply with the interim rule by July 3, 2023.
Under government contract law, an interim rule impacts acquisition from the date it is listed in the Federal Register, and has the force of a Federal Acquisition Regulation requirement. The FAR is the set of rules that governs U.S. government procurement.
The TikTok prohibition applies to the presence or use of any covered application on any information technology owned or managed by the Government, or on any IT used or provided by a contractor including equipment provided by the contractor’s employees, unless an exception is granted in accordance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum M–23–13.
The OMB in February published a memo that gave all federal agencies 30 days to ensure Chinese-owned video app TikTok is no longer present on government devices.
The memo requires government IT leaders within 30 days to “identify the use or presence of a covered application on information technology” and to establish an internal process to adjudicate limited exceptions.
IT departments can enforce such measures by remotely removing the TikTok application across selected devices, which can also require the use of “allowlists” or “blocklists” when targeting a specific piece of software.
Nevertheless, three senior officials told FedScoop earlier this year that the OMB policy document poses significant technical and definitional questions and challenges for agencies working to implement the new guidance.
Some critics of the TikTok ban, both inside and outside of the government say it is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment. Others say that all social media platforms, including those headquartered in America, take a dragnet approach to collecting users’ data.