Gov. Greg Abbott Bans Use of TikTok On Government-Issued Devices

Are Republican politicians standing up to China at last? Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) ordered a ban on using the well-known Chinese social media application TikTok on government-owned devices amid concerns about communist Chinese surveillance.

Tiktok hosts over 80 million users in the United States alone.

The governor of Texas issued a press release about the order on Tuesday.

“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,” the governor wrote in part.

Abbott’s claims appear to be substantiated. The Chinese social media app routinely collects data from viewed videos, keyboard typing patterns, information from linked social media accounts, private messages and contacts, and even phone and location data, according to reviews.org.

“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 U.S. data. It has also been reported that ByteDance planned to use TikTok location information to surveil individual American citizens,” Abbott explained.

Abbot has mandated that TikTok be removed from any government-issued devices used by officers and employees, including computers, tablets, and desktop computers.

“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 concluded.

Abbot was not the first governor to declare a ban on the app as it pertains to state-owned devices. Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) enacted a similar restriction in November.

“South Dakota is banning TikTok for state government. We will have no part in intelligence gathering for China, a nation that hates America,” she posted at the time.

The Executive Branch is prepared to help in codifying and implementing cybersecurity reforms once the 88th Legislature convenes, including finalizing legislation to make the TikTok ban for state agencies permanent, per KAXN.