AUSTIN (KXAN) — The University of Texas at Austin said Monday that TikTok is now blocked on any device connected to the university’s 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,” an email to UT faculty and staff said Monday morning. A letter was also sent to students.
This action follows Gov. Greg Abbott’s December directive to ban the use of TikTok on any government-issued devices. In the following days, UT said all university employees must also remove the app from state-issued devices including university-issued phones, laptops, tablets and computers.
“The university is taking these important steps to eliminate risks to information contained in the university’s network and to our critical infrastructure,” the emailed letter said. “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.”
The university said it had no further comment on this move.
In a statement to KXAN, TikTok shared disappointment in UT’s move.
We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok. We’re especially sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed policies beginning to impact universities’ ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more.TikTok spokesperson
The public university’s “TikTok Removal Policy,” which was sent to the UT community Dec. 16, says all university employees must immediately remove the social media app from university-owned devices.
Austin Community College District told KXAN it is “evaluating and preparing for collegewide network changes to limit access to the platform through the ACC network as well as on college-issued devices.” In December, ACC suspended collegewide activity on TikTok in response to Abbott’s directive, a spokesperson said.
Several recent laws have targeted social media “censorship” and age-based social media bans. A North Texas lawmaker filed a bill proposing a social media ban for people under age 18. Last year, a different Texas law went into effect that prevented large social media companies from banning users’ posts based on political views. That law faced a federal appeal, but it was rejected.
Outside Texas, several states have banned TikTok from government devices, including Wisconsin and North Carolina last week. President Joe Biden signed a limited ban in December for federal employees’ government-owned devices, NBC News reported.