UT-Austin blocks TikTok access from University Wi-Fi networks

Kylee Howard, Senior News Reporter

UT-Austin blocked TikTok access on any device connected to its Wi-Fi networks, according to an email sent to the University community Tuesday morning. The decision follows Governor Greg Abbott’s directive to ban the app from all state-issued devices. 

Beginning Tuesday, users connected to the University Wi-Fi who try to use the app will be unable to load videos, Jeff Neyland, advisor to the president for technology strategy, said in an email.

“The University is taking these important steps to eliminate risks to information contained in the University’s network and to our critical infrastructure,” Neyland said in the email. “As outlined in the governor’s directive, TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users’ devices and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government.”

Gov. Abbott’s Dec. 7 directive, which effectively banned TikTok from all state and government-issued devices, cites “growing threats posed by TikTok that require immediate action to protect our State’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure,” as reasoning for the demand. UT soon banned the app from all university-issued devices, according to an email to all employees on Dec. 16. 

“While the federal government holds the ultimate responsibility for foreign policy issues, the State also has the responsibility and opportunity to protect itself,” Abbott said in the directive. 

UT-Austin is not the first Texas university to ban the video-sharing app from its networks. The University of North Texas banned the app on Jan. 10, according to a newsletter sent to students; and the University of Texas at Dallas banned TikTok late Tuesday.

“The federal government recognizes the video-sharing mobile application as a national security threat,” Neyland said. 

The University declined requests for further comment.