TEXAS - Governor Abbott has long opposed the popular video-sharing app TikTok. For months, Abbott has questioned the cybersecurity and data storage tactics of TikTok and has even inspired Texas universities to ban the app from campus Wi-Fi networks.
Governor Abbott announced today that a statewide ban of TikTok is imminent in Texas.
In announcing his plan to ban the app across Texas, Abbott cited concerns over the app developers' ties with China and heightened cybersecurity risks for its users.
Texans, especially our state agencies and employees, must be protected from having sensitive information shared with the Chinese Communist Party," Abbott said.
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,” said Governor Abbott. “Owned by a Chinese company that employs Chinese Communist Party members, TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity."
Governor Abbott banned the use of TikTok on government-issued devices- including laptops, phones, and PCs- last month.
Now, Abbott is taking it a step further and increasing sanctions around the app.
The model plan, released with Monday’s announcement, calls to prohibit employees or contractors from conducting state business on devices with TikTok or the other banned technology.
Additionally, all government-regulated agencies in Texas have until February 15, 2023, to omit all use of TikTok.
Though jarring, Abbott's actions aren't exactly surprising. The Texas governor has been vocal about his disdain for the video-sharing app and often raised concerns over the data risks surrounding it.
Last winter, Abbott called TikTok a " national security threat and a cybersecurity risk to all Texans" in a televised appearance on FOX. He then banned the app from all government-issued devices.
Governor Abbott was not alone in his sentiments toward TikTok, as other lawmakers around the nation began rallying against the app as well.
Citing cybersecurity concerns, members of Congress introduced legislation last week to ban TikTok in the U.S. amid concerns that the Chinese government is gaining access to critical information through the app.
The new proposal, according to the bill's supporters, would aim to defend Americans from foreign foes who could try to use certain social media to spy on Americans, discover private information about them, and disseminate misinformation.
FBI director Chris Wray noted that the app collects data on its users that could be used for traditional espionage operations.
All of these things are in the hands of a government that doesn’t share our values, and that has a mission that’s very much at odds with what’s in the best interests of the United States. That should concern us,” Wray told an audience at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
A TikTok representative said that they are disappointed to be on the receiving end of such a heavy legislative backlash.
We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok,” spokesperson Jamal Brown wrote.
“We’re especially sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed policies beginning to impact universities’ ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more.”
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