DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS: Abbott Announces Plan to Enforce TikTok Ban on Govt Devices

February 7th, 2023 10:04 AM

Don’t mess with Texas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced Monday that his state is implementing a plan to enforce its TikTok ban on state-owned devices. 

Abbott cited increased security risks due to the app’s troubling ties with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in a Feb. 6 press release. “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,” Abbott said.

He continued: “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.”

“The dangers posed by the communist Chinese government-tied platform cannot be overstated,” said MRC Free Speech America & MRC Business Director Michael Morris in a statement. “Politicians like Sens. Josh Hawley, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and others have been hot on the trail, warning about the potential of the Chinese Communist Party’s ability to abuse Americans’ data for years, and they’re right. When Americans can’t even trust U.S.-based Big Tech platforms, what makes anyone think they can trust a platform tied to Red China?”

Abbott also cited “other prohibited technologies listed in the statewide model plan” that “also produce a similar threat to the security of Texans.” In Abbott’s view, “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 previously announced a ban on the app in December, but has now implemented the requirement that all state agencies comply with the TikTok ban by February 15, 2023.

The plan seeks to identify additional security risks posed by online apps and bans government contractors or employees from “conducting state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices.” The objectives for Abbott’s plan to ban TikTok from state-issued devices are as follows:

  • “Ban and prevent the download or use of TikTok and prohibited technologies on any state-issued device identified in the statewide plan. This includes all state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices of capable of internet connectivity. Each agency’s IT department must strictly enforce this ban.”
  • “Prohibit employees or contractors from conducting state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices.”
  • “Identify sensitive locations, meetings, or personnel within an agency that could be exposed to prohibited technology-enabled personal devices. Prohibited technology-enabled personal devices will be denied entry or use in these sensitive areas.”
  • “Implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on agency networks by any device.”
  • “Work with information security professionals to continuously update the list of prohibited technologies.”

Abbott’s plan follows a new wave of scrutiny aimed at TikTok among lawmakers. MRC Free Speech America reported last week that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote a letter on Feb. 2, asking Google and Apple to ban TikTok from its app stores. 

“[W]e should accept the very real possibility that the CCP could compel TikTok, via ByteDance, to use its influence to advance Chinese government interests, for example, by tweaking its algorithm to present Americans content to undermine U.S. democratic institutions or muffle criticisms of CCP policy toward Hong Kong, Taiwan, or its Uighur population,” Bennet’s letter reads.

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