Numerous major Texas universities announced overnight that they have banned TikTok on government devices and restricted access to the social media app on their internet networks.
The University of Texas at Austin, one of the nation’s largest college campuses, said on Tuesday it has banned TikTok from its networks and has begun removing the Chinese app from government devices over data privacy concerns.
The move is aimed at bringing the campus in line with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s directive issued last month that called on government agencies to address the cybersecurity risks posed by TikTok, said Jeff Nyland, technology strategy adviser to the president. pupils.
“The university is taking these important steps to address the risks to the information contained on the university network and to our critical infrastructure,” Nyland said.
The University of Texas at Dallas, a separate campus, said in a message to students on Tuesday that it began deleting TikTok from university-owned devices last month and will take the additional step of blocking access to TikTok on its Wi-Fi network.
Another major Texas university, Texas A.&M told ABC News on Wednesday that it has taken similar steps to restrict access to TikTok. The university has blocked access to the social media app on government devices and is in the process of restricting access to the app on its Wi-Fi network, a spokesperson for the university said.
TikTok is facing growing scrutiny from state and federal officials over concerns that US data could be leaked to the Chinese government.
More than half of the US states have taken steps to partially or completely ban TikTok on government devices.
The Biden administration and TikTok have signed a tentative agreement to address the app’s national security concerns, but the talks remain hindered, The New York Times reported in September.
TikTok claims to store US user data outside of China and has never removed US posts from the platform at the request of the Chinese government.
In a statement in response to the ban imposed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan last month, TikTok told ABC News, “We believe the concerns underlying these decisions are largely due to misinformation about our company. We are pleased to continue constructive meetings with state politicians. to discuss our privacy and security practices. We are disappointed that many government agencies, offices and universities will no longer be able to use TikTok to build communities and connect with voters.”
Recent news has called into question the security of user data.
In June, Buzzfeed reported that TikTok engineers based in China had access to sensitive information about US users, such as phone numbers. In October, Forbes reported that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance intended to use the app to access information about some users.
The Trump administration tried to ban TikTok in 2020, eventually urging ByteDance to sell the app to a US company. However, the sale never took place.