Texas Gov. Abbott Bans TikTok on State-Issued Devices

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Monday announced a statewide model security plan to ban the use of China-owned social media app TikTok for state agencies, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

TikTok, an official partner of the World Economic Forum (WEF), is owned by Chinese media giant ByteDance, which is headquartered in Beijing. The Chinese government acquired a stake and board seat at ByteDance, through a 1% stake sale to a state-owned company on April 30, 2021 to WangTouZhongWen (Beijing) Technology.

The Texas governor’s move will “address vulnerabilities presented by the use of TikTok and other software on personal and state-issued devices,” according to the release.

Texas’ Department of Public Safety and Department of Information Resources developed the plan in order to “guide state agencies on managing personal and state-issued devices used to conduct state business.”

Each state agency will have until February 15, 2023 to implement its own policy to enforce this statewide plan, the release says.

Gov. Abbott said in a statement, “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.”

“Owned by a Chinese company that employs Chinese Communist Party members, TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details about a user’s internet activity. Other prohibited technologies listed in the statewide model plan also produce a similar threat to the security of Texans,” he went on to say.

“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. I thank the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Department of Information Resources for their hard work helping safeguard the state’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure from potential threats posed by hostile foreign actors.”

According to the newly implemented plan, the use of TikTok and other prohibited technologies will be banned on all state-issued devices, including laptops, phones, and tablets.

The ban will be enforced by each agency’s IT department.

Additionally, employees and contractors will not be allowed to conduct state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices.

Sensitive locations and personnel within agencies will also be protected from prohibited technology-enabled personal devices, which will be denied entry.

Network-based restrictions will also be put in place to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on agency networks by any device.

Information security professionals will work with the state to continuously update the list of prohibited technologies.