Governor Greg Abbott has banned all state agencies and employees from using TikTok on government-issued devices, effective immediately. Abbott says the app poses a "threat of the Chinese Communist Party gaining access to critical U.S. information and infrastructure," Chron reports.
In a letter from Abbott to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan and other state agency leaders, he said:
"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. While TikTok has claimed that it stores U.S. data within the U.S., the company admitted in a letter to Congress that Chine-based employees can have access to U.S. data."
The recently reelected governor also cited FBI Director Christopher Wray's recent warning that alleges the Chinese government could use the social media app's location services and algorithm "to surveil and influence American citizens."
As part of Abbott's new order, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Information Resources are to develop a plan "for state agencies to address any vulnerabilities presented by the use of TikTok on employees' personal devices by January 15, 2023," Chron reports. These plans must be implemented no later than February 15, 2023.
Texas is the latest state to ban TikTok. Earlier this week, Maryland and South Carolina announced the move to ban the social media app. South Dakota also banned TikTok last month.