Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces plan to ban TikTok on state government-issued devices

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) announced a ‘statewide model safety plan’ for state employees and contractors to follow, which bans TikTok and others software on government-issued devices, as well as the use of prohibited technology personal devices on government networks.

Abbott’s model statewide security plan would address “vulnerabilities” presented by the use of TikTok and other software on personal and state-issued devices. The plan follows the governor’s directive last December, which was supposed to immediately ban employees from downloading or using TikTok on all state-issued devices.

“The security risks associated with using TikTok on devices used to conduct our state’s important business should not be underestimated or ignored,” Abbott said. “Owned by a Chinese company that employs members of the Chinese Communist Party, TikTok harvests significant amounts of data from a user’s device, including details of a user’s internet activity.”

The governor’s plan, as he noted in the announcement, includes several goals that agencies must implement and every employee and contractor must follow to protect Texas’ “sensitive information and critical infrastructure.” against technologies, such as TikTok, that could pose a threat:

  • Prohibit and prevent the downloading or use of TikTok and prohibited technologies on any state-issued device identified in the statewide plan. This includes all state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktops, and other devices with internet connection capability. The IT department of each agency must strictly enforce this prohibition.
  • Prohibit employees or contractors from conducting government activities on prohibited technology personal devices.
  • Identify sensitive locations, meetings, or personnel within an agency who may be exposed to prohibited technology personal devices. Personal devices with prohibited technology will be refused entry or use in these sensitive areas.
  • Implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on agency networks by any device.
  • Work with information security professionals to continually update the list of prohibited technologies.

In addition to TikTok, some of the “prohibited technologies,” which include an entity’s subsidiary or affiliate, on Texas’ list at the end of January include ByteDance Ltd., WeChat, Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corporation, AliPay, QQ Wallet and Dahua Technology Company.

“Other prohibited technologies listed in the model statewide plan also produce a similar threat to the safety of Texans,” Abbott added. “It is critical that state agencies and employees be protected from the vulnerabilities presented by the use of this app and other prohibited technologies when working on behalf of fellow Texans”:

“I thank the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources for their hard work in protecting sensitive information and critical state infrastructure from potential threats posed by hostile foreign actors,” he continued.

Each state agency will have until Feb. 15 to implement its policy to implement the governor’s plan statewide.

In recent months, Democratic and Republican public officials have pushed and/or called for action against the Chinese social media app over concerns that it is monitoring Americans.

Many governors have announced that their states will also ban TikTok from government devices over the past year, including Ohio, Georgia, Montana, Alabama and Iowa.

At the federal level, a bill passed by the Republican-led Senate was added to the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law last year, which banned TikTok from US government devices.

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. Write to him at jbliss@breitbart.com or follow him on Twitter @JacobMBliss.


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