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Texas governor reveals plan to ban Chinese app from state employee devices

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
February 7, 2023

Concerns continue to mount about communist China using TikTok to obtain sensitive United States government information on both the federal and state level.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott's efforts to protect Texas and its residents

Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a model security plan on Monday designed to help protect the state's sensitive information and infrastructure from potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited via the app, according to a state press release on Monday.

"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,” said Governor Abbott.

He went on to point out that the Chinese owned company, which employs Chinese Communist Party members, has the capability to harvest, "significant amounts of data from a user's device."

He detailed that this even included specifics about a user's internet activity.

Ban not exclusive to TikTok

Governor Abbott stated that there were several technologies listed in the statewide model plan that were a risk to Texas, and it wasn't exclusive to TikTok.

"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," he said.

Governor Abbott went on to thank the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of  Information Resources for their involvement in helping to develop the plan.

Objectives of the governor's model security plan

The model security plan outlines five objectives the governor is calling on all “state agencies and institutions of higher education (IHEs)” to implement.

In short, the plan calls for prohibiting the download and use of any technology onto any state devices that would put Texas at risk.

In addition, business will be prohibited from being conducted on devices with said technology. And any potential security breaches will need to be identified and the breach will have to be fixed.

The plan also calls for the implementation and continuous updating of network-based restrictions that would effectively block the download of prohibited technology.

Governor Abbott gave state agencies a deadline of Feb. 15 to implement security policies that would support the plan's implementation.

Texas universities announce efforts to implement governor's directive

The University of Texas at Austin announced its detailed efforts to implement Governor Abbott's directive on Jan. 17th.

"Today, the university blocked TikTok access on our networks. You are no longer able to access TikTok on any device if you are connected to the university via its wired or WIFI networks," the statement said.

There are several other Texas universities that are implementing the governor's directive, as well as several other universities across the United States that are banning TikToc on their campuses, according to NBC News.

Texas is one of 31 states that have implemented a ban on TikTok in connection to state employee devices, according to Forbes.