Texas universities have responded swiftly to Governor Greg Abbott’s ban against the app TikTok from government agencies, with multiple schools following suit within days of the order.
The University of Texas at Austin was the latest post-secondary school in the state to restrict access to the popular video sharing app, as reported by the Texas Tribune, adding to a list that already includes the University of Texas at Dallas, University of North Texas in Denton, and Texas A&M.
Gov. Abbott recently ordered aggressive action against TikTok requiring that all Texas state agencies “ban the use of TikTok on any government-issued devices” over the threat of the Chinese government “gaining access to critical U.S. information and infrastructure.”
The University of Texas at Austin sent a letter to students informing them that the app has been prohibited on the school’s Wi-Fi and wired internet networks in response to the governor.
“The university is taking these important steps to eliminate risks to information contained in the university’s network and to our critical infrastructure,” the letter reads.
A representative from TikTok responded to the story, calling the decision a “bandwagon” move that was a “rushed policy.”
“We’re disappointed that so many states are jumping on the political bandwagon to enact policies that will do nothing to advance cybersecurity in their states and are based on unfounded falsehoods about TikTok,” the app’s spokesperson Jamal Brown said.
The representative went on to claim that the move will hurt recruitment and information sharing as well as brand building around sports teams and communities.
“We’re especially sorry to see the unintended consequences of these rushed policies beginning to impact universities’ ability to share information, recruit students, and build communities around athletic teams, student groups, campus publications, and more,” Brown added.
System spokesperson for Texas A&M said the school is in the process of “putting in place network based filtering that will block both wireless and wired access to downloading or accessing the app.”
Chief communications officer for the University of North Texas in Denton tried to put the app restriction into layman’s terms:
“Devices capable of internet connectivity require a network to connect to the internet … thus, blocking TikTok at the network level prevents … ‘devices capable of internet connectivity’ from downloading or using TikTok.”
The University of Texas at Dallas will ban TikTok from its airwaves also, excluding university housing, as that network is owned by a third party.