Texas Universities Ban TikTok — Here’s What It Means

On Tuesday, the University of Texas at Austin announced that it has restricted access to TikTok. It’s the latest move following Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Dec. 7 directive barring the use of the app on state devices.

Students and faculty will not be able to access TikTok while connected to university internet servers in order to eliminate risk of information leaks, according to an email sent to students by UT-Austin technology adviser Jeff Neyland.

Since then, more Texas universities has banned the app while connected to campus servers, including University of Texas at Dallas, Texas A&M University System and The University of North Texas.

According to Abbott’s December directive, the plan was to be distributed to state agencies by Jan. 15. As a result, each state agency is then expected to create its own policy regarding the use of TikTok on personal devices by Feb. 15.

Currently, the use of TikTok on federal-government devices is already prohibited by agencies such as the  U.S. Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security.

“The threat of the Chinese Communist Party to infiltrate the United States continues to grow on multiple fronts,” Abbott wrote, noting that Tiktok is owned by Chinese company called ByteDance Ltd. “While TikTok has claimed that it stores U.S.
data within the U.S., the company admitted in a letter to Congress that China-based employees can have access to that U.S. data. It has also been reported that ByteDance planned to use TikTok location information to surveil individual American citizens
Because of these threats, effective immediately, every state agency in Texas shall ban its officers and employees from downloading or using TikTok on any of its government-issued devices.

Abbott added that the ban extends to all state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices capable of internet connectivity.

Other schools banning TikTok on devices connected to university Wi-Fi networks, include Auburn University in Alabama, the University of Oklahoma and the schools within the University System of Georgia, among others.

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