Governor Abbott announces statewide plan to ban TikTok – HotAir

Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday a statewide plan to ban TikTok. The governor said the move will protect Texas state agencies and employees from “sensitive information shared with the Chinese Communist Party.” TikTok is a security threat to the state.

This is not a surprise. Governor Abbott has talked about the dangers of TikTok for months. This announcement is a follow-up to an announcement in December. The December announcement banned social media on government-owned devices. He has been clear that he wants to ban its use by state employees and agencies. Texas is one of nearly 20 states addressing cybersecurity risks presented by TikTok. Texas colleges and universities responded by ordering employees to remove TikTok from their state-issued devices. They blocked students from accessing the app using on-campus Wi-Fi.
Abbott released the model plan during Monday’s announcement. The objectives are fairly straightforward.

1. Ban and prevent the download or use of prohibited technologies on any state-issued device. This includes all state-issued cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and other devices capable of internet connectivity. Each agency’s IT department must strictly enforce this ban.

2. Prohibit employees or contractors from conducting state business on prohibited technology-enabled personal devices.

3. Identify sensitive locations, meetings, or personnel within an agency that could be exposed to prohibited technology-enabled personal devices. Prohibited technology-enabled personal devices must be prohibited from entering or being used in these sensitive areas.

4. Implement network-based restrictions to prevent the use of prohibited technologies on agency networks by any device.

5. Coordinate the incorporation of other technology providers as necessary, including any apps, services, hardware, or software that pose a threat to the State’s sensitive information and critical infrastructure into this plan.

Members of Congress seem to be taking note and following the lead from states.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources developed a plan for state agencies on managing personal and state-issued devices used to conduct state business. Each agency will have until February 15, 2023, to implement its policy to enforce this statewide plan.

Shortly after those calls to action, members of the U.S. Congress introduced legislation to ban TikTok across the nation, citing concerns the Chinese government is gaining access to critical information through the app. The bill’s sponsors said the new legislation would seek to protect Americans from foreign adversaries who might try to use TikTok to gather sensitive data and spread propaganda.

One reply to the governor’s tweet reminds everyone of the fact that employees shouldn’t have personal content on work devices.

Governor Abbott released a statement in a press release that essentially says the same that the model plan says.

“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,” Abbott is quoted as saying. “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. 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.”

Who knows how much information the CCP has already harvested? At this point, I assume they know everything they want to know. But, this is a start in protecting Texans and the state’s resources. Better late than never.

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