Texas governor unveils plan for statewide TikTok ban

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) unveiled Monday a statewide plan to ban TikTok from state government-issued devices and networks, following a December order to crack down on the use of the popular social media app.

“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 in a statement.

“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,” he added.

The statewide plan would prevent the download or use of TikTok and other prohibited technologies on state-issued devices, including cellphones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers.

It would also prohibit employees or contractors from conducting state business on devices with prohibited technologies. The plan also includes restrictions from using TikTok and other prohibited technologies on state-issued internet networks.

“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.”

State agencies in Texas will have until Feb. 15 to implement policies that support the statewide plan.

Abbott is one of many Republican governors to have issued the ban on government devices, including in Ohio, South Dakota and Maryland.

U.S. lawmakers have also followed suit.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) introduced a bill to ban TikTok on government-issued devices for federal employees. The legislation unanimously passed the Senate and was added into a government funding package at the end of last year and signed into law by President Biden.

Hawley has since introduced another bill that would ban the app nationwide. This would be the first of its kind to be introduced this Congress, following a similar proposal led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) last year.

“We’re sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed TikTok bans—policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity—beginning to impact universities’ ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.

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