Governor Abbott to ban TikTok from Texas government devices, networks

by Jacob Fuller

Katie Kerekes, FISM News

As concerns over national security are on the rise, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced a statewide plan to ban TikTok from all government-issued devices and networks.

Following Abbott’s December directive for “aggressive action against TikTok,” this “statewide model security plan” was developed by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources with the intent to address the “vulnerabilities presented by the use of TikTok and other software on personal and state-issued devices,” the governor’s office announced in a press release Monday.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

In addition to the prohibition of the app on state-issued networks and devices such as cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop devices, and any others with internet capabilities, the plan also prohibits “employees or contractors from conducting state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices,” according to the press release.

“It is critical that state agencies and employees are protected from the vulnerabilities presented by the use of this app and other prohibited technologies as they work on behalf of their fellow Texans,” Abbott continued.

Abbott’s security plan mirrors that of Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-Mo.) bill passed at the end of last year concerning federally-issued devices and networks, and the state of Texas joins more than 40 states in the nation that have either passed or introduced legislation or implemented restrictions on the social media app.

“I thank the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Information Resources for their hard work helping safeguard the state’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure from potential threats posed by hostile foreign actors,” Abbott concluded.

This development in a years-long conversation concerning national and private data security comes as the Chinese-owned social media platform’s CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before Congress in March, in response to the allegation that TikTok “knowingly allowed the ability for the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data.”

Laws in China require its tech companies to share any data with the communist government upon request, which raises concerns that the app could be reporting data on Americans to the CCP.