TikTok, banned by the Texas Government

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Austin– Gov. Greg Abbott banned the social media platform TikTok from government-provided cell phones and computers on Wednesday, becoming the latest Republican governor to target the video-sharing app over cybersecurity fears.

Abbott cited concerns that TikTok posed a threat to state information given that the app is owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd. Last week, FBI Director Chris Wray raised concerns that the Chinese government could use the algorithm. recommendation of the application to manipulate the content or users. He warned that the Chinese government does not share the values ​​of the United States and said that “that should concern us.”

The video-sharing app, which popularized dance trends and inspired viral challenges, had nearly 87 million users in the United States as of 2021. The federal government has warned about TikTok’s security risks for years. In 2020, then-President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app.

The Republican governors of South Dakota, South Carolina and Maryland have banned TikTok on government-issued devices. Wisconsin Republicans asked their Democratic governor to do the same.

In letters to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and state agency leaders, Abbott said banning TikTok on government cell phones, laptops, tablets and desktops would protect sensitive information and critical infrastructure. of the Chinese government.

“TikTok collects vast amounts of data from its users’ devices, including when, where, and how they perform activities on the Internet, and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” Abbott’s letter said.

Abbott acknowledged that TikTok has said its data is stored in the United States, but expressed concern that the Chinese government could use the app to monitor American citizens.

The governor also directed the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Information Resources to develop a plan to address the use of TikTok on the personal devices of government employees. One area of ​​focus that Abbott mentioned included network-based restrictions that would prevent access to TikTok while on agency property.

Abbott left some room for flexibility in the social media ban, allowing state agency leaders to use TikTok for police investigations and “other legitimate uses.”

On Wednesday, the Indiana attorney general sued TikTok alleging the company misled users about how China can access their data, according to The New York Times. The lawsuit also said the app exposed minors to adult content.

Earlier this year, the Austin Business Journal reported that TikTok leased more than 125,000 square feet of office space in Austin.

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