After ordering state agency officials to bar employees from downloading or using TikTok on state-issued devices, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced a plan for a statewide TikTok ban.
Developed by the state’s Department of Public Safety and the Department of Information Resources, the “Model Security Plan for Prohibited Technologies” aims to address the security risks posed by TikTok and other software on both government-issued and personal devices of state employees.
TikTok, owned by Beijing-based Bytedance, has long been accused of secretly harvesting user data.
In December 2022, the company admitted to spying on multiple reporters in an effort to track down sources of leaked information.
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Abbott previously directed state agency officials to immediately ban employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices.
The new plan expands to restrict employees or contractors from conducting state business on personal devices with TikTok or other prohibited software, including WeChat, Alipay and QQ Wallet.
The model also seeks the implementation of network-based restrictions to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on any device. Additionally, it aims to identify sensitive locations, meetings or personnel that could be exposed to devices with prohibited software.
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. 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.
Texas state agencies have until Feb. 15 to implement their own policies according to the plan.