Texas universities have taken steps to ban access to the TikTok app on campus-owned networks and devices. The decision comes in the wake of executive orders issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who cited privacy and security concerns due to the app’s Chinese origins.
TikTok inaccessible on Texas university networks and computers
“The university is taking these important steps to eliminate risks to information contained on the university’s network and critical infrastructure”, said Jeff Neyland, advisor to the president of the University of Texas.
TikTok, owned by the company ByteDance, is a popular social app among young people, with billions of active users worldwide. However, security and privacy concerns due to the app’s Chinese ownership have led to similar bans on access to the app at several US universities.
“As described in the governor’s guidelines, TikTok collects huge amounts of data from users’ devices – including when, where, and how they perform internet activities – and makes this potentially sensitive information available to the Chinese government.” said a Texas A&M University spokesman.
Governor Abbott issued an executive order in December requiring government agencies to ban access to the app on government devices because of security and privacy concerns. Agencies have until February to adapt to the changes.
In addition to the University of Texas and Texas A&M, public universities in states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma and South Dakota have taken similar steps to restrict access to the app, blocking it on campus Wi-Fi networks and school-owned devices.
Although TikTok remains one of the most popular social apps among young people, these bans show that educational institutions and the U.S. government are increasingly concerned about security and privacy issues related to the app’s Chinese origins.
Of course, recent findings that TikTok has been tracking the work of US journalists don’t put the company in a favorable light, either, fueling concerns from authorities.