AUSTIN (KXAN) — A recent decision by Texas Governor Greg Abbott led to a ban of the social media website TikTok on state-owned devices and networks, including the University of Texas system. However, the site remains accessible at Moody Center, which is on the UT campus.
The site is still accessible for students and staff with personal devices via cellular data, but for those without data at UT-Austin, the Moody Center’s public Wi-Fi network has a signal strong enough to be accessed from outside of the building.
The land that the Moody Center is on is owned by the University of Texas system, but the building is operated by the Oak View Group. For 60 days each year, the university is in charge, holding basketball games and graduation ceremonies.
A Moody Center spokesperson declined to comment on how the venue was affected by the governor’s order.
The Moody Center’s network is currently still available during those events, allowing access to the site during events.
The LBJ Presidential Library, located on the UT Austin campus, also prohibits access to the site via its networks, due to its status as a federal property. President Joe Biden signed a ban on the site for federal networks and devices in December 2022.
The network is also banned on Texas A&M’s network, a decision applauded by U.S. House Rep Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in a press release issued Wednesday.
“The CCP will use any means at their disposal to infiltrate America’s best universities. Texas A&M’s decision to ban TikTok on campus Wi-Fi will help stop the CCP in their tracks, prohibiting them from exploiting students’ data and stealing valuable research,” McCaul said. “I urge other universities to take this threat as seriously as Texas schools like A&M and UT, which continue to set an example for the rest of the nation.”
McCaul was asked if he wants a wider ban on China-based websites, and if he sees any threat to students’ data from other social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands and headquartered in Beijing, with additional offices around the world.