UT enforces TikTok ban on government devices following state orders

Leena Alali, Senior News Reporter

On Dec. 16, UT’s University Compliance department sent an email to students and faculty instructing all University employees to immediately remove TikTok from all state-issued devices. 

On Dec. 15, the U.S. Senate passed a bill prohibiting federal employees from having the app on government-issued devices with bipartisan support. Texas is one of at least 24 states so far that have banned the app at the state level, following concerns over the threat it could pose to information security. The UT email correspondence was sent in accordance with a Dec. 7 order from Texas Governor Greg Abbott banning the social media app on state-issued devices. As a state institution, the University must abide by the recent order.

“The University has notified all employees that TikTok is not permitted on state-issued devices,”  said Brian Davis, senior manager of issues and crisis communications at the University, in an email. “We have completed evaluation of centrally managed devices on our network and are determining the best course to achieve, monitor and maintain full compliance with the governor’s directive.”

TikTok, known for its short video humor and music content, has operated as a social media app in the United States since 2018. TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is Chinese-owned. The Chinese ownership and U.S. operation of a social media app that is used by nearly 87 million Americans has created concern in regard to national security in recent months, motivating political action against the app.

Davis said in an email earlier this week that the University expects to make another announcement in regard to the effect of the legislation on students and faculty.

At a guest speaker event at the University of Michigan, FBI director Christopher Wray expressed concern that the app’s relation to the Chinese Communist Party may be used to “manipulate” American social media.

Although no new legislation has been passed by President Biden, both state and national concerns over the security vulnerabilities of TikTok are becoming more prominent. The University said it will continue to abide by all relevant legislation as a state entity.