Posted on

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday unveiled a plan to eliminate TikTok from devices at higher education institutions and all state agencies, seeking to boot the popular China-founded social media platform completely out of the state government.

More than 20 U.S. states have enacted restrictions on TikTok’s function on state-owned devices, including Texas, which announced restrictions in December. Mr. Abbott’s plan gives state agencies until Feb. 15 to implement policy enforcing the ban.

“The security risks associated with the use of TikTok on devices used to conduct the important business of our state must not be underestimated or ignored,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement. 

Mr. Abbott’s “Model Security Plan for Prohibited Technologies” restricts TikTok’s use on state-issued devices and prevents people from conducting official state business on personal devices where TikTok is accessible. The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources crafted the plan.

“In addition to preventing the use of prohibited technologies on state-issued devices, agencies must prohibit employees and contractors from using prohibited technology-enabled personal devices to conduct state business,” the plan said. “State business includes accessing any state-owned data, applications, email accounts or non-public facing communications.”

Alongside state employees and contractors, the restrictions also apply to interns and “any users of state-owned networks” at all state agencies and institutions of higher education, according to the plan.

TikTok said the state bans were counterproductive.

“We’re sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed TikTok bans — policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity — beginning to impact universities’ ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more,” said TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown in a statement. 

Texas’ plan also applies to a broader list of tech platforms than TikTok. Companies such as Huawei, ZTE, Tencent, and Kaspersky were all included on the state’s list of prohibited technologies.

The implementation of TikTok restrictions in Texas presents a key test of how governments will enforce various bans and provide insight into the feasibility of a broader ban outside of government networks.

Congress passed a ban restricting federal officials’ use of TikTok late last year that gave the Biden administration 60 days to implement the new limitations. The Biden administration has come under fire from Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican, who wrote to the Office of Management and Budget late last month over concerns that he saw no signs of progress toward implementation since it was signed into law in late December.

Mr. Hawley also proposed a broader ban of TikTok from all U.S. devices last month.

President Biden’s administration has maintained a national security review of TikTok that began during the Trump administration amid concerns about Americans’ data being exposed to China.

• This article was based in part on wire-service reports.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *