Technology

TikTok banned from government-issued devices in Texas

The directive from Gov. Greg Abbott comes the same day the state of Indiana filed a lawsuit against the app.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Wednesday a ban of the popular app TikTok from all government-issued devices.

In a news release, the Republican said the Chinese government could use the app to access critical U.S. infrastructure and information.

"TikTok harvests vast amounts of data from its users' devices — including when, where, and how they conduct internet activity — and offers this trove of potentially sensitive information to the Chinese government," Abbott told state agency heads in a letter Wednesday.

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance.

On Wednesday, Abbott also sent a letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan telling them "the Executive Branch will stand ready to assist in the codification and implementation of any cybersecurity reforms that may be deemed necessary."

Abbott's directive comes the same day as the state of Indiana filed a lawsuit against TikTok.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, also a Republican, claimed the app exposes minors to mature content and that it has deceived its "users about China's access to their data," The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Indiana's lawsuit is the first against the app filed by a U.S. state. But a growing list of Republican governors have banned the app from government-issued devices. This week, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued his directive and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster blocked the app from government electronics. Late last month, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem did the same.

Last month, the FBI said TikTok poses national security concerns.

FBI Director Christopher Wry told a congressional panel that there's a "possibility that the Chinese government could use [TikTok] to control data collection on millions of users or control the recommendation algorithm, which could be used for influence operations if they so choose, or to control software on millions of devices, which gives it an opportunity to potentially technically compromise personal devices."

Copyright 2022 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.
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