Universities across North Texas have banned TikTok from campus networks and devices.
The bans from the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas at Dallas come after a Dec. 7 order from Gov. Greg Abbott. The Republican governor's directive banned all state agencies from using the app on government-issued devices, including phones, laptops, tablets, computers, or any other device capable of connecting to the internet.
Abbott cited his concerns in letters sent to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and the leaders of state agencies.
"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," reads one of the letters. "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."
After Abbott's announcement, UNT, UT Arlington and UT Dallas moved to implement a ban on the popular social media site.
"UT Arlington took immediate steps in December to follow the governor's directive and continues to implement measures to restrict access to TikTok via university devices and networks." UT Arlington said in a statement to NBCDFW.com.
The University of Texas at Dallas made an announcement today after the University of Texas at Austin announced it will begin its ban on the social media site, according to a report from the Texas Tribune. Texas A&M University also previously announced a ban according to a report from The Battalion.
"The governor's memo indicates that TikTok software poses a threat to our “state’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure” because it 'harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices,'" UT Dallas said in a statement. "To comply with this order, UT Dallas began removing TikTok software from all University-owned computing devices on Dec. 21."
Laken Rapier, chief communications officer for the University of North Texas, said the university took immediate action to block the site, which is highly popular among Gen-Z users.
“As a result of Governor Abbott’s directive to all state agencies banning employees from using or downloading TikTok on all state-issued or managed devices and environments, the UNT System immediately moved into action to implement several controls across all of its campuses and locations," Rapier said in a statement. "These actions include leveraging endpoint configuration management tools, as well as blocking access via our networks."
Abbott also previously ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources "to develop a model plan for other state agencies that would address vulnerabilities presented by the use of TikTok on personal devices by Jan. 15, 2023."
Both agencies would then be expected to implement their own policies governing the use of TikTok on personal devices by Feb. 15, 2023.