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TikTok ban on state of Texas devices goes into effect next week

Texas’ new security plan applies to personal and state-issued devices used by employees to conduct state business. Each state agency has until Feb. 15 to comply with the new plan.

Published: February 7, 2023 7:50am

Updated: February 7, 2023 11:31pm

(The Center Square) -

A new Texas-wide ban of the social media app TikTok on devices used for state business goes into effect on Feb. 15.

The TikTok app, used by more than 85 million Americans on their smart phones, is owned by ByteDance Ltd., which employs Chinese Communist Party members and its subsidiary is partially owned by the CCP.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new statewide security plan for Texas state agencies to follow one month after he instructed state agencies to ban employees from using TikTok from government-issued devices. Texas’ new security plan applies to personal and state-issued devices used by employees to conduct state business. Each state agency has until Feb. 15 to comply with the new plan.

“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. “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. 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.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Information Resources created the security plan, which bans TikTok from being used on any state-issued device, including all state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices of capable of internet connectivity. Each agency’s IT department is required to “strictly enforce this ban.”

Employees and/or contractors are also prohibited from conducting state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices, according to the new statewide plan. It requires state agencies to identify sensitive locations, meetings, or personnel who could be exposed to prohibited technology-enabled personal devices and to deny entry or their use in these sensitive areas.

State agencies are also required to implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on agency networks by any device and to work with information security professionals to continuously update the list of prohibited technologies.

Abbott said last month that the legislature is addressing cybersecurity reforms this session. He directed Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan to prioritize legislation that will codify state agency requirements in his directive.

Abbott made the announcement after the U.S. military shot down a Chinese spy balloon over the weekend and after lawmakers have raised concerns about Chinese espionage in the U.S.

“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,” Abbott warned last month. “While TikTok has claimed that it stores U.S. data within the U.S., the company admitted in a letter to Congress that China-based employees can have access to U.S. data.”

“It has also been reported that ByteDance planned to use TikTok location information to surveil individual American citizens,” Abbott added, pointing out that “under China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, all businesses are required to assist China in intelligence work, including data sharing, and TikTok’s algorithm has already censored topics politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including the Tiananmen Square protests.”

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