On June 2, 2023, the federal government issued an interim rule that prohibits the presence or use of TikTok on devices that are used by individuals for purposes of federal contract work.
This federal ban applies to all devices used in the performance of federal contracts, whether the device is owned by the federal government, a contractor or a contractor’s employee (i.e., personal devices). Beyond TikTok, other services developed or provided by ByteDance Limited also are prohibited, according to federal guidance.
This interim rule applies to federal contracts awarded or modified on or after June 2, 2023. The rule does not apply to federal grants or cooperative agreements.
Faculty serving as a principal investigator on a federal contract that is or may soon be subject to this interim rule are responsible for complying with this new federal requirement. The U-M Research Security Team, based in the Office of the Vice President for Research, is available to provide guidance and support for faculty as they navigate the complexities associated with this new rule.
Why has this interim rule been issued?
The interim rule implements the No TikTok on Government Devices Act (section 102 of Division R of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 – Pub. L. 117–328). It prohibits “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” on any device used in the performance of federal contracts, including personal devices. Per the Federal Register notice, “This interim rule is being implemented as a national security measure to protect Government information and information and communication technology systems.”
What does it mean that this rule is “interim”?
As an interim rule, it is effective immediately but still subject to public comment and possible modification. The comment period closed on August 1, 2023. A final rule will subsequently be issued. The Office of the Vice President for Research will continue to seek clarity around this interim rule and how it will be applied. Updated information will be provided as it becomes available.
What applications does this ban apply to?
Does it apply to all federal agreements?
The rule does not apply to federal grants and cooperative agreements or subawards flowing from grants and cooperative agreements. The rule applies to federal contracts issued on or after the effective date of June 2, 2023, or modifications to existing contracts on or after that date to extend the length of the contract (period of performance). This also includes subcontracts issued off of federal contracts.
If you are unsure if your federal agreement is a grant or contract, you can login to eRPM and verify your Award Type on the main tab of your award record. See screenshot below for an example (highlight added).
Will this impact my existing federal contract?
The new restriction does not apply automatically to existing federal contracts and subcontracts. If you receive an amendment after June 2, 2023 to your federal contract or subcontract you should read the amendment carefully to determine if FAR 52.204–27 has been added. It is not uncommon for individual agencies to begin including a new FAR clause in all amendments or to issue an amendment for the sole purpose of applying the new FAR clause even when the agency is not specifically required to do so. It is important, as always, that you review the terms of your contract or subcontract and any subsequent amendments.
Who does this rule apply to?
Anyone (including U-M faculty, staff, and students) performing work on new or modified federally funded contracts (not grants or cooperative agreements) is subject to this ban.
What devices may not have TikTok ?
Any devices (laptop, desktop, server, phone, etc.) used in the performance of federal contracts are subject to the rule and are not allowed to have Tik Tok. This includes devices, both U-M managed and personal, where email or other activities such as data collection or analysis are being used to perform work on a federal contract.
What is meant by performing work on a federally funded contract?
While not specifically defined in this new rule, activities such as collecting or analyzing data and/or receiving/sending email specific to the project/contract could be considered performing work on a device.
What if my device currently has the TikTok app on it?
If you are using the device to perform work on a federal contract, the Tik Tok app must be uninstalled from the device. If you are unsure of how to do this effectively, contact your local ITS or HITS support.
Are my personal devices allowed to have TikTok?
If your personal devices are used to perform work on federal contracts subject to this ban then they cannot be used to access TikTok. If personal devices are not used in the performance of applicable federal contracts, then the rule does not apply.
If I have a federal contract, can I use TikTok on my phone if my only work related use is email?
No, if you are using the email on your phone to perform work on a federal contract that is subject to this ban you cannot use TikTok or ByteDance products.
I have a federal contract and I or my research team uses a computer that also has access to an app or web on that computer - is that allowed?
No, if you are using your computer to perform work on a federal contract that is subject to this ban you cannot use or access TikTok or ByteDance products via the web or through an app.
I am the PI and I don’t have Tik Tok on any devices, can my students and staff have Tik Tok on their personal phones that include their work email?
No, if your students are using the email on their phone to perform work on a federal contract that is subject to this ban they cannot have or use TikTok or ByteDance products.
Does this apply only to apps or to websites as well?
The ban applies to any mechanism used to access TikTok or other ByteDance products, including downloaded apps as well as use of websites/browsers.
If I have a federal contract, can I still watch TikTok if I go through a browser (like Chrome, or Safari) on my computer or phone? What about if it is a U-M owned computer?
No, If you are using your computer or phone to perform work on a federal contract that includes this ban you cannot access TikTok or any other ByteDance product on that computer or phone. The ban applies regardless of whether a device is U-M owned or managed or is a personal device. If you do not do any work for the federal contract (including email) on your computer or phone, you can still use/watch TikTok.
If I do not get my U-M email through my personal phone, can I have the TikTok app on my phone if I am on a federal contract?
Yes, if you do not do any work for the federal contract (including accessing email) on your personal phone you can have the TikTok app on your phone. If you are using your personal phone to perform work on a federal contract that is subject to this ban you cannot have the TikTok app on your phone or access TikTok or any ByteDance product.
Does using gmail or Outlook for my U-M email qualify as "performance of a federal contract"?
Yes, if you are using these or any other email programs for work on a federal contract that is subject to this ban, then you cannot have the TikTok app on your device (phone, laptop, etc.) or access TikTok or any ByteDance product whether via an app, web browser or other means.
If someone sends me a TikTok via text or email, can I watch it even if I don't have a TikTok account or the app on my device?
If the device that you are using is used to perform work on a federal contract that is subject to this ban, you cannot access TikTok or any ByteDance product through any medium, including text, email, web browser or app.
Will U-M be blocking TikTok on campus?
No, at this time U-M will not be blocking Tik Tok on campus. U-M is unwaveringly committed to academic freedom, and freedom of expression and inquiry. The right to academic freedom in education and research is foundational to the university’s mission and place as a public institution. The University blocks access to websites only when they pose an IT security threat to U-M or when required by law.
Where can I find the specific guidance requiring a ban on ByteDance products?
The Prohibition on a ByteDance Covered Application is found in FAR 52.204-27.
Who is responsible for ensuring that Tik Tok and other prohibited applications are not being accessed on devices used in the performance of federal contracts?
The Principal Investigators on federal contracts that are, or may soon be, subject to this interim rule are responsible for complying with this new federal requirement. PIs are expected to cascade the messaging around this ban to their project team and ensure those working on their projects are compliant.
What happens if I continue to use TikTok (or any ByteDance product) on a device that I am using in the performance of a federal contract that prohibits use?
Individuals found in noncompliance with the terms of a federal contract may be removed from the contract, subject to federal contractual penalties, and/or subject to disciplinary action. In addition, the federal sponsor may require the return of any and all funds and/or termination of the contract.