“Every state agency in Texas shall ban its officers and employees from downloading or using TikTok on any of its government-issued devices,” Abbott wrote in a letter to state agency heads. The ban is effective immediately.
“This TikTok ban extends to all state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices capable of internet connectivity, and it must be strictly enforced by your agency’s IT department,” he added.
“While TikTok has claimed that it stores U.S. data within the U.S., the company admitted in a letter to Congress that China-based employees can have access to that U.S. data,” he noted. “Further, under China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, all businesses are required to assist China in intelligence work, including data sharing, and TikTok’s algorithm has already censored topics politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party, including the Tiananmen Square protests.”
The governor also signaled that he stands ready to sign and implement legislation that cements this directive into law.
Further, Abbott asked the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources to design a plan for state agencies regarding the use of TikTok on personal devices.
Per the governor, the plan must address the use of the app on personal devices that have remote access to government accounts, the identification of sensitive locations, meetings, and agency personnel that could be exposed by TikTok-enabled personal devices, network-based restrictions that could prevent TikTok use on personal devices while on agency property, and whether other apps, services, hardware, or software should be considered for inclusion in the plan.
Last week, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) set off a domino effect when she issued an executive order banning TikTok on state-owned or leased devices. Following her lead, Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) issued a directive Monday asking his state’s Department of Administration to remove the application from state-owned devices permanently.
On Tuesday, outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) sent out a similar directive, ordering the removal of TikTok from state-owned or managed technology assets.