Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday banned the use of social media platform TikTok for state employees and agencies. The popular app is cited by many as a collector of massive amounts of personal data that is available to the Chinese Communist Party.
Abbott wrote that the Chinese company stores information on when, where, and how users access the internet. This sensitive data, in turn, is readily available “to the Chinese government.”
The governor noted that TikTok claimed that its data on U.S. users is stored within the U.S. However, under pressure from Congress it admitted that employees based in China also have access to the collected information — making its storage location irrelevant.
Abbott also referenced reports that ByteDance, the app’s parent company, will use GPS location data from TikTok to track U.S. citizens.
If that’s not enough, China’s 2017 National Intelligence law mandates that all businesses aid the communist regime in intelligence gathering. TikTok is already well known for stifling topics Beijing finds politically sensitive, including the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Today, I ordered all Texas state agencies to ban TikTok on government-issued devices as the Chinese Communist Party poses a growing threat to U.S. cybersecurity.
The State of Texas will continue working to preserve the safety and security of all Texans. https://t.co/ZXP9atgu7N pic.twitter.com/5N3OYFBBnp
— Gov. Greg Abbott (@GovAbbott) December 7, 2022
Abbott’s action is not the first of its kind by a governor. South Dakota Republican Kristi Noem banned the platform for state employees in November, saying that her state “will have no part in intelligence gathering for China, a nation that hates America.”
Maryland’s state government also enacted a similar ban.
The social media giant, with a reported 80 million American users, is under intense scrutiny by both state and federal authorities for its harvesting and storage of vast troves of user data.
On Wednesday, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita sued TikTok over claims the company misled consumers on the Communist Chinese government’s access to their personal information.
The state also alleges that the platform directs age-inappropriate content toward teenagers. Indiana’s action is the first legal recourse sought by a state against TikTok.
The most logical course of action is the one that former President Donald Trump attempted late in his administration — ban the social media platform from the U.S. altogether. Multiple legal challenges prevented his attempt, but it’s high time to rid the nation of an obvious security risk.