The University of Texas at Austin Bans Students From Using TikTok on Network

The University of Texas at Austin recently banned students from using TikTon on its Wi-Fi network. Katabella Roberts of The Epoch Times noted that this is in line with Governor Greg Abbott’s “December 2022 directive that all state agencies eliminate the cybersecurity risks posed by the video-sharing app.”

On January 17, 2023, Jeff Neyland, adviser to the university’s president for technology strategy, sent an email to UT students announcing how the school is taking measures to comply with the governor’s executive order. 

“The federal government recognizes the video-sharing mobile application as a national security threat,” the email stated. “Several federal agencies and states have already prohibited its use on their government networks and government-issued devices.”

“Recently, UT Austin began the process of removing TikTok from all government-issued devices, including university-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers. 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.”

Neyland highlighted how the school is implementing steps such as prohibiting students from using the app in an attempt to “eliminate risks to information contained in the university’s network and to our critical infrastructure.” Roberts noted that the app is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

Neyland’s message alluded to Abbot’s directive, which was issued on December 7, 2022. This directive stated that there’s a growing threat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attempting to infiltrate the US through various means. 

“While the federal government holds the ultimate responsibility for foreign policy issues, the State also has the responsibility and opportunity to protect itself,” the order detailed.

In addition, Abbott’s directive ordered state agencies to prohibit employees from downloading or using the app on devices the government issues, which includes, cell phones, desktops, laptops, and other devices that are able to be connected on the Internet. That said, there were some exceptions made for law enforcement agencies. 

Abbott also instructed the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources to create a plan that other state agencies can use to tackle “vulnerabilities presented by the use of TikTok on personal devices.”

According to Abbott and several other elected officials, the app gathers large amounts of data from its users’ devices, which includes “when, where, and how they conduct internet activity. “ In addition, such data  could provide the CCP with a large amount of sensitive information. 

Other schools that have banned the use of TikTok include Auburn University, the University of Oklahoma, and Boise State University in Idaho. In a similar vein, growing numbers of US states have prohibited the app on government devices, such as Maryland, South Carolina, and South Dakota. All of these states have alluded to security concerns as a justification for this move to ban the usage of TikTok on government devices. Banning TikTok from government devices is a commonsense way of handling the China question. Instead of trying to militarily confront it, US policymakers should work to limit its economic influence in the US and restrict immigration from there.

At the end of the day, America First nationalism is still the safest way to promote world peace and allow for the US to prosper on all fronts.

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