UT blocks student access to TikTok

(The Hill) — The University of Texas at Austin banned social media platform TikTok from its Wi-Fi network after state governor Greg Abbott (right) banned the app from use on government devices.

On Tuesday, the university told students in an email received by The Hill that they are taking steps to comply with Abbott’s December directive to “remove the cybersecurity risk posed by TikTok.”

“Today, the university has blocked access to TikTok on our networks,” the university said in an email. “You can no longer access TikTok on any device if you are connected to the university through its wired or WIFI network.”

The platform’s ban on the campus, which has more than 52,000 students, is the latest in a string of steps taken by Democratic and Republican-controlled states to stop the app from being used on government devices. The backlash against TikTok is that it is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, raising federal and state concerns that it may be collecting and sharing sensitive information with the Chinese government.

“As outlined in the Governor’s directive, TikTok collects massive amounts of data from its users’ devices, including when, where and how they engage in online activity, and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government,” the university said in a statement.

The university sports department has a TikTok account with about 260,000 followers. It has not been published on the platform since November.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) ordered the app to be banned from government devices earlier this month. At least 24 other states have taken similar action.

After Murphy banned the platform in his state, he and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (right) sent out a letter to other governors urging them to take action and ban TikTok.

“As the federal government works towards a comprehensive solution, we are calling on our fellow governors to join the growing number of states taking action,” the governors said in a January letter. “By acting against foreign cyberthreats like TikTok, governors can protect our states, enhance national security, and ensure our citizens can trust our state systems.”

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