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West Virginia Senate Committee Tweaks, Passes Tech Ban Bill

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved a bill aimed at banning any technology or platform from state devices that could threaten cybersecurity. TikTok was the impetus for the legislation.

(TNS) — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved the governor's TikTok ban bill.

SB 426 says the Chief Information Security Officer will develop standards regarding banned high-risk technology platforms or products. All levels of government — local governments, K-12 schools, higher education, and state entities — must enforce those standards.

In addition, all levels of government "must remove, restrict, and ban those high-risk technology platforms or products that pose a cybersecurity threat from all government systems, services, networks, devices, or locations."

A Judiciary Committee tweak of the bill adds a specific reference to TikTok.

Committee counsel told the senators that since 2020, at least 25 states have targeted these issues, with many specifically aimed at TikTok — which is closely tied to the Chinese Communist Party. The bans are bipartisan, occurring in red and blue states.

"This is a growing trend that crosses ideological lines, " counsel said.

The bill says, "It is in the best interest of the citizens of West Virginia and to the national security to enact measures designed to purge and prevent untrustworthy and high-risk technology from interfering with or damaging critical state networks and infrastructure."

Governor's General Counsel Berkeley Bentley elaborated on that. He said the bill reflects a policy in place in the executive branch for several months and aims to take into account all technologies and platforms tied to foreign entities that pose a high risk of infiltrating state systems. Infiltrating at a low level — such as a local government device, can open up infiltration all the way to the top.

Chief Information Security Officer Danielle Cox said her office needs to be able to address concerns in a rapidly changing environment. Committee chair Charles Trump, R- Morgan, said he believes the bill allows that flexibility.

Cox said she participates in a group chat with all the other 49 state CISOs and with federal officers to keep up date on trending and evolving threats they need to react to and be prepared for.

Bentley said the feds are assembling a list of high-risk platforms and products that the CISO's office will adopt, and update as it grows and changes.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

©2023 The Dominion Post, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.