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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Federal interim rule implements TikTok ban on devices used in the performance of federal contracts

The U.S. Government has issued an interim rule for federal contracts that prohibits the presence or use of the social networking service TikTok or any successor application or service developed or provided by ByteDance. This is limited to devices, including personal, used for performance of federal contract work.

The rule is implemented through a new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause, FAR 52.204-27, Prohibition on a ByteDance Covered Application.

Although the interim rule was only passed recently, U.S. Government security concerns about TikTok have been ongoing since at least 2020, when the “No TikTok on Government Devices Act” was first introduced in the Senate, explains Steve Ackerman, vice chancellor for research and graduate education.

“Rules such as the Tik Tok ban are intended to safeguard the security and integrity of federally funded research,” says Ackerman. “UW–Madison also continues to engage in a robust conversation about cyber security and has launched a Research Security Program webpage to support those efforts, among others in the research security realm. We also welcome John Jay Miller as the new interim director of the Research Security Program in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE).”

A campus Research Security Program is required by the federal government to protect against foreign government interference and exploitation at research institutions receiving federal funds. National Security Presidential Memorandum 33 (NSPM-33) is an executive branch directive intended to safeguard the security and integrity of federally funded research.

Miller’s early work as interim director of the Research Security Program has included leading a work group on research security and spearheading adoption of an UW–Madison emergency policy to implement the interim rule.

The interim rule is being applied to federal contracts awarded or modified on or after June 2, 2023. Principal investigators on a federal contract that is or may soon be subject to this requirement, will have primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with this new requirement.

According to the UW policy on personally owned devices, a personally owned cell phone or other device that is not used in the performance of the federal contract is not subject to the prohibition.

UW System had previously issued a directive barring the presence or use of the Tik Tok app on university owned devices, so the primary impact of the interim rule and emergency policy is on personally-owned devices that are used for the performance of a federal contract. For more information on UW–Madison compliance with UW System TikTok restrictions visit University Relations FAQs on Tik Tok.

Some key aspects of the interim rule are unclear, but pending further guidance, PIs are asked to instruct their lab staff, including students, who are working on a federal contract to uninstall the TikTok app from all personal devices on which they conduct any federal contract-related work (including emailing, calling, texting, collecting data, etc.).

When the final rule is published, the OVCRGE will reach out with any updated policy information and guidance.

Please direct any questions or comments to:

John Jay Miller, J.D.
Interim Director, Research Security Program
Research Policy and Integrity
(608) 265-5122