greg abbott

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TikTok booted from Texas government devices by Gov. Greg Abbott

Abbott cited concerns over TikTok’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

 

Mikael Thalen

Tech

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has ordered all agencies in the state to ban the use of TikTok on government-issued devices.

In letters to numerous state agency leaders on Wednesday, Abbott cited concerns over the “growing threats posed by TikTok” due to the social media platform’s relationship with the Chinese Communist Party.

“It belongs to a Chinese company called ByteDance Ltd., which employs Chinese Communist Party members and has a subsidiary that is partially owned by the Chinese Communist Party,” the letter states. “TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices—including when, where, and how they conduct internet activity—and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government.”

TikTok has faced numerous scandals over the past few years regarding its handling of U.S. user data. A report from BuzzFeed News in June, based on leaked audio from more than 80 internal meetings at TikTok, revealed that U.S. user data was repeatedly accessed from China. TikTok had previously claimed that such data was only stored in the U.S. and not accessible in China.

Governor Abbott’s demand, which requires all state agencies to put together official policies regarding TikTok by Feb. 15, 2023, will bar the popular app from all internet-connected devices such as cell phones, laptops, desktops computers, and tablets.

Narrow exceptions to the rule will be granted upon request, Abbott added, in order to enable investigations by law enforcement, among other scenarios.

Texas is not the first state to take aim at TikTok. South Dakota just last month banned the app from being used on state devices as well. Maryland, South Carolina, and Nebraska have taken similar steps.

In 2020, the U.S. military also banned its members from using TikTok due to the app’s vast collection of user data.

Despite the crackdown from government entities, TikTok remains one of the most popular social media platforms in the U.S.

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