Governor Greg Abbott of Texas called for a ban of TikTok from all state agencies this week. Agencies have until February 15th to accommodate to the policy, which entails removing the social media app from all devices used to carry out official Texas-related business. The new ruling will also involve restricting access to TikTok usage on personal devices in potentially “sensitive locations and meetings.”
TikTok, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, Ltd., has been criticized for mining data from its American users. Since the Chinese government can demand data disclosures from businesses, Gov. Abbott thinks TikTok is an issue of state and national security:
TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity. Other prohibited technologies listed in the statewide model plan also produce a similar threat to the security of Texans. 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’s ruling is an expansion of a December decision to ban TikTok from all government-issued devices in the state. Other states, including Oklahoma, have also enacted similar measures, indicating that the concern over data privacy and security is growing more widespread.
Abbott’s decision comes in the wake of national attention to the Chinese surveillance balloon, which was first sighted in Montana and eventually shot down off the east coast on Saturday. The increasingly tense US-China relations may prompt other state legislatures to follow in Abbott’s footsteps.