AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday released new requirements for state agencies in a “statewide model security plan” that prohibits the Chinese social media app TikTok on state-issued devices or networks.
Gov. Abbott already banned the app on state-issued devices and at public universities in December. This plan does not appear to significantly expand the ban already in place and only applies to state employees, contractors, and “devices used to conduct state business.”
“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,” Gov. Abbott said. “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.”
Agencies are required to restrict their devices’ access to app stores, prevent unauthorized app downloads, and be able to remotely wipe devices.
Employees are prohibited from conducting state business on any device that has the capability to access TikTok or other prohibited apps. State business includes “accessing any state-owned data, applications, email accounts, or non-public facing communications,” according to the plan.
The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources drafted the plan as a guide for state agencies to implement the ban and manage information on state-issued devices. Each agency must submit their plan to enforce the requirements by Feb. 15, and the Governor’s Office said they were made aware of those requirements in December.
Dr. Art Conklin, the Director of the Center for Information Security Research and Education at the University of Houston, said he agrees with the ban.
“When you look at what it can collect, and the type of information, like where you are, this stuff can be incredibly dangerous to be shared with parties who you don’t even know who they are,” he said.
His university joined other public schools like The University of Texas and Texas A&M in ceasing their use of the app this December.
“If [Gov. Abbott] doesn’t want other people spying on our government’s actions, you got to ask, ‘Do I want them spying on my personal life?'”
“We’re sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed TikTok bans—policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity— beginning to impact universities’ ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more,” TikTok spokesperson Jamal Brown said.
The company is working to improve their reputation through an initiative they internally dubbed “Project Texas.” The name is a nod to Austin-based Oracle, a software company with which TikTok has partnered to process user data from within the U.S.