EducationStatewide NewsUT Austin Blocks TikTok on University Wi-Fi Networks

Texas, 21 other states, and the federal government have all issued bans on TikTok from government-owned devices.
January 18, 2023
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The University of Texas (UT) at Austin sent out an email to students on Tuesday morning explaining that the popular social media app TikTok would be blocked on university Wi-Fi networks.

“The University of Texas at Austin is taking steps to comply with Governor Greg Abbott’s Dec. 7 directive to all state agencies to eliminate the cybersecurity risks posed by Tiktok,” the email reads.

In a letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) from December 7, Abbott stated that TikTok is a Chinese corporation that harvests data from its users and could share that information with the Chinese Communist Party.

Abbott “ordered every state agency in Texas to ban TikTok on any state-issued devices” by February 15, 2023.

In its email, UT Austin wrote that it was in the process of removing the app from “all government-issued devices, including university-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers.”

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“The university is taking these important steps to eliminate risks to information contained in the university’s network and to our critical infrastructure,” the email claims. “As outlined in the governor’s directive, 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.”

U.S. Rep Michael McCaul (R-TX-10), who has criticized TikTok in the past, lauded UT’s ban in a statement. “I’m proud of the University of Texas for taking this crucial step to protect both the personal data of students and the troves of research they have conducted,” he wrote.

“It’s no secret that TikTok is beholden to the Chinese Communist Party, which uses the app to indoctrinate, surveil, and exploit Americans. I urge Texas’s other universities to follow UT’s lead in taking this threat seriously and ensuring American students are not used to advance the CCP’s malign goals.”

President Biden approved a similar ban on TikTok from federal government-issued devices at the end of last year. Former President Trump signed an executive order to ban the app outright in 2020, but that attempt did not hold up in court.

Per the Associated Press, Texas is one of 22 states to have banned TikTok on state-owned devices, including state universities.

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Rob Laucius

Rob Laucius is the Assistant Editor of The Texan. He graduated summa cum laude from Hillsdale College in 2022 with his Bachelor’s in History, and has interned for the U.S. House of Representatives and Veterans Administration. In his free time, he continues to read and write.