By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kentucky is joining more than 20 U.S. states in banning the popular video app TikTok on government devices citing cybersecurity concerns.
The state said it had updated its employee handbook to bar state employees from using government-managed devices to access the Chinese-owned app "other than for a law enforcement purpose." On Thursday, the governors of Wisconsin and North Carolina signed orders banning TikTok on government devices. Ohio, New Jersey and Arkansas also took similar actions earlier this week.
Some states have gone farther than targeting TikTok. New Jersey and Wisconsin for example also banned vendors, products and services from other Chinese companies including Huawei Technologies, Hikvision, Tencent Holdings - the owner of WeChat, ZTE Corp as well as Russian-based Kaspersky Lab.
TikTok said it was "disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok."
Most of the states so far to act have Republican governors, but Wisconsin, North Carolina and Kentucky all have Democratic governors.
Calls to ban TikTok from government devices gained steam after U.S. FBI Director Christopher Wray said in November it poses national security risks.
Wray flagged the threat that the Chinese government could harness the app to influence users or control their devices.
For three years, TikTok - which has more than 100 million users - has been seeking to assure Washington that the personal data of U.S. citizens cannot be accessed and its content cannot be manipulated by China's Communist Party or any other entity under Beijing's influence.
Last month, President Joe Biden signed into law a government funding bill that included a ban on federal employees from using or downloading TikTok on government-owned devices.
The law gives the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 60 days "to develop standards and guidelines for executive agencies requiring the removal" of TikTok from federal devices.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Franklin Paul and Diane Craft)