Greg Abbott announces a plan to ban TikTok on Texas government devices after an initial ban on the app from Texas government employees’ devices late last year.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered state agencies to ban using TikTok and other software connected to Chinese and Russian companies from government devices. State agencies have until February 15 to develop plans to not only restrict the downloading of TikTok on government devices but forbidding conducting state business on personal devices or any device where TikTok is installed.
“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,” Governor Abbott said.
“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,” he continued.
“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.”
The governor’s plan includes similar requirements surrounding the Chinese messenger app WeChat, Russian cybersecurity software Kaspersky, and Chinese electronics company Huawei. Governor Abbott has taken significant steps to combat perceived threats to Texas’ cybersecurity, including signing the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act in 2021 to develop specific infrastructure against threats, including “hostile foreign actors.”
In December, the governor initially told state agency leaders to ban employees from using or downloading TikTok on government devices, while the University of Texas at Austin blocked access to TikTok on its WiFi network in January.
Texas is far from alone in its scrutiny of the viral short-form video app, which has around 100 million users in the US alone. Over half of US states have partially or entirely banned TikTok from government devices.