The University of Texas at Austin will block TikTok on its Wi-Fi and wired internet networks, the school announced on Tuesday. The new rule follows the December 7 directive from Governor Greg Abbott to ban access to the Chinese-owned video-sharing app on all government-issued devices.
UT Austin is the newest university to ban the app from campus. The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, the University of Central Oklahoma, Boise State University, and Auburn University have all blocked the app from their campus networks as well as university-issued devices. The university systems of Georgia and Montana are expected to follow suit.
Universities banning TikTok is the latest move in the intensifying backlash against the app across the nation. 31 states have so far completely or partially banned the app on state-owned or issued devices, with Kentucky, North Carolina, and Wisconsin as the latest to join the list.
The House of Representatives also recently banned the app from its official devices. Shortly after, President Joe Biden also signed a bill that bans the use of the app on devices owned by the government’s agencies, with limited exemptions for law enforcement, national security, and security research purposes.
Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd, TikTok exploded in the US over the pandemic and currently has around 100 million users in the country. The backlash against the popular app stems from security concerns, particularly how the app stores and utilizes US user data, and whether it could fall into the hands of the Chinese government.
ByteDance has consistently denied allegations of sharing information with the Chinese government, dismissing the issue to be “largely fueled by misinformation.” Earlier reports have said that the app can be used to spy on certain American citizens and influence political processes in the US.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the company is working on a $1.5 billion plan to reorganize its operations in the country, to prove to Washington that it can operate independently from its China-based parent ByteDance. The plan includes measures that will let third-party companies monitor TikTok’s content-recommendation algorithms, and detect if any code changes are made.
Information for this briefing was found via CNN, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Twitter, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.